“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.

 

Random thoughts on a death in the family

So, to be blunt, my mother is dead. She died a week ago, in Florida, where she and my dad spent their winters from December to April. My three brothers and I flew down to be with her and Dad, all hoping she’d pull out of it again, as she had in several previous crises, but I think mother-ovalwe all knew otherwise. She was 88.

We flew down on Sunday, and early Wednesday morning she died. In between times, she was so delighted that we were all there, as was my dad. We sang to her in four-part harmony, as she died. Yesterday was the funeral and burial, here in upstate New York.

Fortunately for us, she and Dad had made prior arrangements with a funeral director close to home, who took charge of getting Mother’s body back to New York State, and all the logistical stuff we might have had to stumble through. She’s been a great source of advice and comfort. There were only a few decisions to be made.

I’m having some trouble shaking off the numbness– I still haven’t wept whole-heartedly. I’m weary and sad and scatter-brained. My youngest brother and I are keeping Dad company in turn, but he also cherishes his alone time. He heads back to Florida in a couple of weeks, to meet my nephew and clean out the double-wide mobile home “unit” he and Mother owned in Florida.

I’m beginning to miss her. I hated the make-up job the undertaker did on her. We had a few good years together, just enjoying one another’s company. She would not have approved of the funeral service starting late, but that was due to the number of people who came to pay their respects. The church was filled. She was widely loved and respected.

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!

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.

 

After John Singer Sargent and Gustave Caillebotte… People’s Choice Award!

Unlikely Dance: Green Skirt - 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas
“The Rude and Bold Committee would like to congratulate People’s Choice Award Winner Glenda Blake, for her painting Green Skirt. Congratulations to a phenomenal Rude and Bold Woman!” Green Skirt – 30 x 48 in., oils on canvas

Wow — I won the People’s Choice Award at Binghamton’s Rude and Bold Women show last week! It was a strong and beautiful show, and I’m so honored. My artist-friend and sometime painting student Rae Doyle-Freeman was a runner-up with her powerful sculptural papier-mâché piece, “On Her Aching Bones, Did Empires Rise.”

Rae Doyle-Freeman: On Her Aching Bones Did Empires Rise
Rae Doyle-Freeman: On Her Aching Bones Did Empires Rise (photo: Carla Bruce)

The People’s Choice is the only award of the show, determined by votes cast by attendees.

The Tuesday before, I got up at ugly-o’clock in the morning to board a 6:10 a.m. Megabus to NYC with artist-friend Harriet and her friend Jo from farther upstate (also an artist), to see Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fabulous time — took the bus four hours to the Port Authority bus terminal, and then we took more than an hour to to get to the MMA on foot and by city bus, but what a stunner of a show.  I knew many of the works from books — had seen one or two in person before — but there is NOTHING like coming face to face with the actual piece.

The Pailleron Children (detail)
The Pailleron Children (detail), by John Singer Sargent: the piece I most wanted to see!

Gradually we took in and discussed, piece by piece, most of the show (gathering a small, attentive audience as we moved along!), took a lunch break when we were exhausted, then — like kids back to the pool — went back for more Sargent. Harriet and I lost Jo in the Post-Impressionist galleries, but I was glad to be forced through them in our search for her. I could live in the MMA. Another long trip back to another long bus-ride… so-o-o tired! But so worth it to experience great art, especially with friends who experience it in the same way.

In His Limbs and Joints, in its new home in Annapolis
In His Limbs and Joints, center, in its new home in Annapolis (photo: Michael Dufton)

The week before that, after seeing my painting, In His Limbs and Joints, installed in my cousin’s lovely home in Annapolis (such a thrill to see it hanging in their amazing art collection!) I got a look at the show, Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye, at the National Gallery of Art, while sweetie and I were in the DC area. Caillebotte wasn’t a name I was familiar with — he was contemporary with Degas, and although more conservative, was equally experimental in his less flamboyant way — but I did know some of the work. And it was sublime. I’m slowly working my way through the show catalog, which we bought on the way out. (I neglected to obtain the Sargent catalog — the photography was such a disappointment after seeing all of the actual pieces — but I hope to soon.)

Caillebotte - Paris Street, Rainy Day
Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, oil on canvas, The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection

A fine first class in Exploring Oil Painting

Session 1 - Exploring Oil Painting, 7-20-15
Wish I’d photographed the underpaintings later — what a strong showing.

The conditions were not perfect — a scorching hot and humid day, so the blinds were closed, limiting natural light; the window-unit air-conditioner making that low humming noise that makes chat so difficult — but what a strong group I gathered for this rendition of Exploring Oil Painting at Your Home Public Library014 The underpaintings were wonderful, and everyone was so helpful in helping me clean up at the end. There were lots of questions, including a request towards the end for a full critique. I did my best in all of this, and in return got hugs, thanks, and promises to come back next week. I do love teaching this class. It’s so varied in enrollment, and filled with people who really want to learn. I do my best to oblige. Thank you, YHPL, for this teaching opportunity! And thanks to the students, who continue to challenge me, and grant me such rewards.

Paint with me this summer!

ExplOilPainting_graphic4flat

Exploring Oil Painting, with Glenda Blake

Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., July 20, 27, August 3, 17, 24, 2015

$15 one-time fee for supplies, for five 3-hour sessions
Enrollment limited to 10 students.

IMG_7166 Explore the fundamentals of oil painting in a casual yet informative setting with artist/instructor Glenda Blake. Together we’ll paint from a still life in the classroom, learning as we go about composition, under-painting, light, shadow, and color mixing. If you’ve always wanted to paint in oils, now is the time! If you have painting experience already, come to learn new techniques and paint with others. If you have a portable standing floor easel you like, please bring it — shorter easels are provided by the instructor. Please wear a work apron, and/or older clothing to paint in.

Classes are on Mondays, July 20, 27, August 3, 17, 24, 2015, 1-4:00 p.m. (No class August 10.) Please plan to attend the first session, and all sessions thereafter if possible. Lessons are sequential; each builds on the previous. To sign up, stop by the circulation desk at Your Home Public Library, 107 Main Street, Johnson City, NY.

Call YHPL at 607 797-4816 for sign-up information, or contact me with questions or for information about class content.

The second-floor class space is beautiful, but, due to the historic nature of the building, there is no elevator.

In which “The Body Electric” opens, and I survive

The Body Electric, at Cooperative Gallery 213
The Body Electric, at Cooperative Gallery 213

Yes, I survived. The sleepless nights beforehand, the shaking hands, the matting, the framing, pulling my back at the mat cutter. The transport, the hanging and arranging and re-hanging. The oppressive humidity. The transport and arrangement of the tons of food (with my sweetie, who not only framed my paintings beforehand, but provided first-rate food — which we will be eating for weeks, if not months — for the Thursday night opening reception).

And yes — I survived the publicity, the newspaper profile, the exhibit announcements, the interview for local TV, the praise, the hugs, well-wishes, and compliments from old friends and from family, meeting new admirers, answering the questions, discussions of artistic techniques, the help and support of my co-exhibitor and my other Cooperative Gallery 213 colleagues, and all the other great and nerve-wracking stuff.

And we packed up the remaining food, and cleaned up the gallery, and came home, and I read a glowing write-up of my work in the Triple Cities Carousel, had a couple of glasses of wine with my sweetie, and slept soundly with a profound sense of relief. Tonight is First Friday — the crowds may easily be larger, the action more hectic, but I survived the opening. Thank you to all.

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

The Body Electric opens July 2 at Cooperative Gallery 213, with London & Beyond

At Last Only Here, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in.
At Last Only Here, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. (© Glenda Blake 2015)

This July, Cooperative Gallery 213, 213 State St. in Binghamton, NY, opens a dual exhibit by Glenda Blake and Chuck Haupt, titled respectively, The Body Electric and London & Beyond. The exhibit runs July 2-25, beginning Thursday, July 2, 6-9 p.m. with a reception, open to the public, at the gallery. The show will also be on display for the First Friday Art Walk from 3- 9 pm. Both artists will talk about their work in a public presentation on Third Thursday, July 16, 7 pm at the gallery.

Glenda Blake is a painter in oils whose realist/impressionist work frequently incorporates dramatically lit dancing figures. The Body Electric, her new work, celebrates the beauty of the human body with a series of nude figures seen from the back and side in dark studio interiors, in ambiguous dance-like postures. The series has its inspiration in the 1855 Walt Whitman poem of the same name, and exhibits a 19th-century-like sensibility.

“I make art to make marks,” Blake says, “and to search those marks for meaning. I make art to reveal to both myself and others the often unnoticed piquancy of the world around us.” She has exhibited her work in juried shows throughout the Northeast and New England. In 2013 she was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation for South Central New York for her ground-breaking series of paintings, “Unlikely Dance.” Visit her website at www.glendablake.com.

Windsor Sentry, © Chuck Haupt
Windsor Sentry, Chuck Haupt

Chuck Haupt is a photographer whose work as a photojournalist graced the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin for 30 years. His black and white photography in London & Beyond leads the viewer on a profound visual journey. “Photography freezes moments in time, forever,” he says. “The camera alone does not make the picture; I make it, using my eyes, emotions, and heart.” His website is www.chuckhaupt.com.

Cooperative Gallery 213, a popular stop on the First Friday Art Walk, is located at 213 State Street in Binghamton, and is open on both First Fridays 3-9 p.m. and regularly Fridays 3-6 p.m. and Saturdays 12-4 p.m. Follow the gallery on Facebook at Cooperative Gallery 213; find out more and sign up for the weekly e-newsletter at www.cooperativegallery.com or our Facebook page Cooperative Gallery 213.