“Forces of Nature” a Success, I think

Forces of Nature
Forces of Nature, at Cooperative Gallery 213

“Forces of Nature,” my show at Cooperative Gallery 213 with Chuck Haupt, closed on April 29, after a successful run. I have to extend great thanks to Chuck for designing the show card and the back wall, aiming the lights, and being generally proactive and supportive while I was distracted by my mother’s recent death and the need to finish the last two paintings for my half of the show. (Valley Watcher was still a bit wet when I hung it…)

HauptBlake
Chuck Haupt, me… mocking photographer/artist Jean Luongo

 

Prior to the opening, Chuck and I went through two TV interviews and a radio interview. I’m learning how to do those, I think — ask for questions in advance, mentally prepare answers, and make sure the camera angle is flattering — be physically demonstrative, too — but it’s a process.

The Thursday opening was lovely, despite yucky weather — so many old friends and new! My dad came, with a family friend, and I so enjoyed introducing him to various artist friends. My sweetie did his usual splendid job with the food. On the following night, Binghamton’s

My "star" tag
My “star” tag

First Friday Art Walk/Event, a Facebook artist friend, the talented Robert Hoover (who I’d met only once before in person), showed up early with a special starburst nametag for me to wear… and then wept openly in front of River Watcher.

I’ve left the palm tree I bought for the show for the next Cooperative Gallery 213 exhibitors — Bill Gorman and Geof Gould — to use in their show, which promises to be great.

 

“Forces of Nature” Opens at Cooperative Gallery 213

River Watcher
River Watcher: oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein

On Thursday, April 6, and First Friday, April 7, 2017, Cooperative Gallery 213 will open “Forces of Nature,” a dual exhibit by Glenda Blake and Chuck Haupt. The exhibit, running through April 30, includes photos of nature across two continents by Chuck Haupt, and paintings / drawings by Glenda Blake of allegorical figures in natural settings. An opening reception at the gallery, public welcome, is planned for Thursday, April 6, 6-9:00 p.m.

Blake says: “My part of this exhibit is made up largely of pieces from my ongoing “Watchers” series. It’s a concept I picked up somewhere in my youthful reading — ancient religious or allegorical symbols or minor deities, observing us as we pass unknowing along their hidden paths. Humanoid objects in incongruous settings often strike me as dispassionate observers of the joys and disasters of our world. There is something in them that is positive — neither hopeful nor despairing, but also not clinging to outcomes, and open to whatever comes. I don’t normally explain my work. I can only let whatever is in me manifest itself, with little or no conscious input from me. After many years as a rational planner and designer of publications, I find this a difficult but rewarding lesson. I’m dedicating this show to the memory of my mother, Beatrice Knoeller Blake, who died on February 22, at the age of 88.” Blake is an award-winning and juried artist who has shown her work throughout the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic regions. She also shows her work at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis, MD.

Haupt says: “Photographing nature has become my passion after spending 36 years as a photojournalist, telling people’s stories visually. Photography is just an extension of my personality. I look for moments happening in front of me that resonate for me. Photography freezes moments in time, forever. The camera alone does not make the picture; I make it, using my eyes, emotions and heart.”

On photographing in black and white: “I like being able to strip away the colors, which I feel enables the viewer to more easily get to the heart of the image — to not be distracted by the colors we all see in everyday life.”

Haupt and Blake have both been exhibiting members of Cooperative Gallery 213 since 2015

Cooperative Gallery 213, a popular stop on the First Friday Art Walk, is located on ArtistsRow / State of the Art, at 213 State Street in Binghamton. The gallery is open on First Fridays 3-9:00 p.m. and regularly on Fridays 3-6:00 p.m., and Saturdays noon – 4:00 p.m. Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter on our website at www.cooperativegallery.com or on our Facebook page, Cooperative Gallery 213.

 

Upcoming Drawing and Painting Classes at local libraries

libraries

I’ve got some classes scheduled at both Your Home Public Library, Johnson City NY (YHPL), and Broome County Public Library, Binghamton NY (BCPL).

All courses consist of five 3-hour weekly sessions, and attendance is required at the first session of each. Find details and registration information on all on my Classes and Workshops page.

NEW – Fundamentals of Drawing: How to See Like an Artist, at BCPL. Based on ideas and exercises from “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards, “The Zen of Seeing” by Frederick Franck, and my own experience, this course will help you with rendering 3-D objects in 2-D by learning to SEE like an artist, to draw what you actually see rather than what you think you see. It can also help you with the two painting courses below. Thursdays, 5-8:00 p.m., January 12 through February 9, 2017 – no cost.

Exploring Oil Painting, at YHPL. Using methods and techniques from my own experience and “Still Life Painting Atelier” by Michael Friel, this course guides you through the process of making a studio-based still life painting from life, from composition and underpainting through finishing touches. By request, the still life this time will consist of all glass objects: a fun challenge! Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., March 20 – April 17, 2017 — $15 supply fee covers all five sessions.

Oil Painting from Altered Photographs, at BCPL. Learn to see your photos differently, how to make them more suitable for oil painting references, and how to enlarge the resulting composition onto your canvas panel using the grid method. Then paint your composition, from underpainting through finishing touches. I utilize methods from “Creative Painting from Photographs,” by Rudy de Reyna, and my own work to illustrate and guide you in using your own photos. Painting materials are supplied at no cost; participants bring a list of low-cost items from a list supplied at registration (also at my Classes and Workshops page as part of the course description). Thursdays, 5-8:00 p.m., May 18 – June 15, 2017

I love teaching these classes — we have a lot of fun. Kudos to both libraries for offering them to the public. Hope you’ll join me!

Beethoven Oaks in “Strokes of Genius,” at the Maryland Federation of Art

Unlikely Dance: Beethoven Oaks - 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas
Unlikely Dance: Beethoven Oaks – 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas

Sweetie and I shipped off this 30 x 48 in. painting today, via UPS and bound for the Maryland Federation of Art’s Circle Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland. Sweetie designed and built the 40-pound crate, and it was perfect — made to UPS and Circle Gallery specifications, puncture-proof, and designed to keep the painting from moving or directly contacting the crate. The shipping cost was surprisingly low.

If my hard drive hadn’t gone belly-up a month ago, I could quote from the acceptance email that said how many hundreds of artists submitted work for this show, but it was several hundred and Beethoven Oaks was one of 68 selected, so I’m thrilled. We have friends and family in the DC area, so we’ll make a pleasure trip around the opening reception in November. Funny thing, though — someone sent Sweetie a link to the show’s Call for Artists, to pass on to me… and we can’t remember who it was. Some messenger of the gods…

And while we were at UPS, we met a re-emerging artist, the woman behind the counter in the shipping office, who’d like to take my painting class. You just never know.

Moon Watcher

Moon Watcher - 30 x 40 in., oil on canvas
Moon Watcher – 30 x 40 in., oil on canvas

After a long time off the easel, Moon Watcher — the latest in my “Watchers” series — is finished! The Watchers are all based on statuary I love, imagined into strange and significant places.

The depiction of moonlight was really tricky — the reference for the background was not originally moonlit — but once I added a cobalt violet glaze to the sky it really worked, and gently popped the foreground figure’s orange-y tones.

I’ve left this piece pretty loosely rendered, maybe more so than usual. Here’s how it went together:

Click in any of the tiled photos below, to switch to a slide show of progressives. To exit the slide show, click the small X in the upper left corner.

Inspiration, impetus, or … just making art

Inspiration is for amateurs
::: inspiration: noun in·spi·ra·tion \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən\  1. something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone  2. a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something  3. a good idea ::: impetus : noun im·pe·tus \ˈim-pə-təs\ 1. a force that causes something (such as a process or activity) to be done or to become more active 2. a force that causes an object to begin moving or to continue to move  / Merriam Webster Dictionary

I’m a great adherent of Chuck Close’s declaration that “inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” There’s more to that quote, about the work producing the direction, and how you won’t get much done if you wait for inspiration. I don’t know; maybe that’s a purist’s point of view, and maybe I’m too old to become a purist. But I’ve been in a slump for months, now, and not painting much at all (except for the demo piece for my last painting class, and that was dreadful). I’ve been meaning to sew — an art I also love — but not doing that either. Meaning to clean up my office and studio, getting a bit done but not much, and of course, meaning to paint. But not. Even meaning to doodle and sketch, for pity’s sake, but not doing much of that either. I’ve been reading, mostly. Reading good stuff — mostly Margaret Drabble — but not painting with any will.

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Breakfast at the Roycroft Inn

However. A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday, Sweetie celebrated my 65th birthday by taking me on a rural New York State ramble, unbooked, unplanned, heading roughly in the direction of Niagara Falls via secondary roads. The weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful — I’m sorry I took so few photos! Stops at the Glen Curtiss Museum, a stay in Brockport, a brief excursion past the falls in Canada, a stay at the wonderful Roycroft Inn (and campus), and finally, a long stop at the amazing Corning Museum of Glass, before heading for home under the threat of thunderstorms… so refreshing.

Bronze statue of Artemis and a deer - Greek or Roman, Late Hellenistic or early Imperial, 1st cent. BC or 1st cent. AD
Bronze statue of Artemis and a deer – Greek or Roman, Late Hellenistic or early Imperial, 1st cent. BC or 1st cent. AD – Metropolitan Museum of Art

The following Saturday, I got on a bus for NYC with a group from the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, and spent a fabulous day in the City looking at great art with fine companions — including a visit to the Met’s John Singer Sargent collection and the Artemis/Diana bronze (which is the basis of my current painting, Moon Watcher).

And I’ve had this bunch of lovely new-to-me paints, given me out of the blue by a colleague, just waiting to get into a real painting instead of minor dabbling…

So: was it inspiration that got me painting again? Or impetus? Is there a difference? Would Chuck Close see one? I kinda think not, but that’s the way that cookie crumbles. I’m just happy to be working again.

 

River Watcher

River Watcher
River Watcher: oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.

I worked on River Watcher and Night Watcher (see the previous post) concurrently, switching off as one dried enough to work on, and then the other did. Each time I switched – rolling my taboret cart from one to the other, shifting the left-hand easel (River Watcher) to fit the taboret between or beside each piece – it was emotionally difficult to leave the one I was quitting. But I’d gamely work into the current piece, and eventually be reluctant to leave that one! Guess I’m a bit obsessive.

GreenBoat Studio
Working concurrently in GreenBoat Studio

I have a penchant for the 19th-century visual sense, both the popular esthetic and the experimental high art of the time, and it’s showing more and more in my painting. Maybe it’s hokey, but it’s me – at least for the time being. The figure in River Watcher is from the same photo shoot, same cemetery in Manchester, NH, as the one in Night Watcher – another muse-like beauty. She’s placed beside the Susquehanna River in Endicott, NY.

This is the first piece I’ve done, since childhood, which features an expanse of water, and I’m quite pleased with it. A lot of the underpainting is left to show, and I like the resulting depth.

River Watcher presented more challenges than the previous piece, as you can see in the progression below.

Click in any of the tiled photos below, to switch to a slide show of progressives. To exit the slide show, click the small X in the upper left corner.

 

Night Watcher

nightwatcher_1200px144-cprt
Night Watcher – oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.

On with my Watchers series. This is Night Watcher, a piece I’ve been meaning for a very long time to do.

It was an oppressively grey late afternoon when I went for a photo shoot in a large old cemetery in Manchester, New Hampshire. We’d driven by it many times since we’d moved to Manchester, and I had always meant to go back with a camera. The place was FULL of 19th-century statuary and elaborate gravestones – obviously it had been a resting place for the wealthier dead. The day I finally went back was a bad one for me – I’d gotten a flu shot the day before, and had woken crushingly depressed yet restless. I had to do something, get out of the house, and for some reason the cemetery seemed appropriate. The light was diffuse, so there were very few clear shadows, yet it was bright enough and low enough to make the figures into mostly silhouettes. At best I’m only a point-and-shoot photographer, and the digital camera I used was not all that good – the year was 2005, and I didn’t even know how to eliminate the timestamp on the images. I also didn’t know just what I was going to do with these images. But it was a satisfying task, and I found out the next day that the flu shot that year had caused depression and anxiety in many people.

I’ve tried a few times to use this particular image in artwork – I still have a couple of attempts in colored pencil, and one in graphite pencil – but until I gave the landscape and figure a night sky, it hadn’t really worked.

Here’s how the painting went together:

Click in any of the tiled photos below, to switch to a slide show of progressives. To exit the slide show, click the small X in the upper left corner.

The First of the Watchers

Woods Watcher, 24 x 36 in., oil on canvas
Woods Watcher, 24 x 36 in., oil on canvas

I still haven’t figured out how to show a progressing project with alerts to my followers, so I’m continuing to post progressives on my professional Facebook page. But here’s the whole progression (below) of the first of my “Watchers” series. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turned out, and I’ve submitted it for the Arnot Regional.

So, what is a Watcher? It’s a concept I picked up somewhere in my youthful reading — Watchers were pagan religious symbols, or figurines, or minor deities, ensconced or trapped in tree trunks along hidden paths. The idea took root in my mind, and when in middle age I lived in the back hills of northern Pennsylvania, there were a couple of standing tree stumps along the road that I mentally christened “the Watchers” — they seemed alert, attentive. Statuary sometimes strikes me that way, especially in incongruous or unexpected settings. And then I ran across a mannequin head in an Etsy shop that triggered the “Watcher” alert in me. With permission from the generous shop owner, I’ve commenced a series of paintings based on her mannequin (this one), as well as more statuary, mannequins, and other humanoid objects as they dispassionately observe the impending disasters of our world. There is something in them that is positive — not hopeful, not despairing — but also not clinging, and open to whatever comes.

I don’t normally explain my work and motivation like this, but this piece comes from deep within me. And that I can’t explain. I can only let whatever is in me manifest itself in my work, with little or no conscious input from me. As I tell my painting students, don’t put any effort into expressing yourself or your emotions — that will happen despite your best efforts, and it’ll be more genuine if you just let it happen while you’re concentrating on other things. After so many years as a rational planner and designer of publications, I myself find this a hard lesson.

Click in any of the tiled photos below, to switch to a slide show of progressives. To exit the slide show, click the small X in the upper left corner.