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.

IMG_8411sm
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.

 

Give the gift of art!

Fiddler, Cutler Gardens
Fiddler, Cutler Gardens, 16×20 in., oil on canvas — one of my artworks for sale at the Members’ Holiday Show, Cooperative Gallery 213

Yes, it’s true — I do sell things from time to time. And what better time than the winter holidays?

Search results for earrings
Some samples of my vintage/new earrings, at both Old Barn Hollow and Cooperative Gallery 213

This year I have earrings and art cards for sale at Old Barn Hollow — my earrings are made from vintage jewelry I pick up at flea markets, antique/junque stores, and yard sales, along with some new parts, and exclusively new earwires in gold- or silver-coated nickel-free brass.  I love making these little sculptural pieces. Because many of the components I use are random vintage, I can’t guarantee what types of stone, metal, ceramic, resin, or glass they may be composed of. I make my best educated guess, and you may do the same.
My art cards are high-quality reproductions of both seasonal and non-seasonal artworks by me, on 5×7″ blank-inside cards. (For more selections and higher quantities, see my Etsy shop. )

And I have more earrings for sale — as well as artwork — at Cooperative Gallery 213. What a wonderland of unique arts and crafts this Members’ Holiday Show is!

Thurs., Dec 3 Gala Opening reception, 6-8 p.m.
Sat., Dec 12     Artist tour with MaryRose, 2 p.m.
Artists will be introduced & are invited to make a statement about their work
Sun., Dec. 13  Holiday Brunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 19   Musical Performance by Doug & Eamonn Hubert, 1 p.m.
Storytime with actress Janet Normile, 2 p.m.

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

Come paint with me this fall

Exploring Oil Painting with Glenda Blake

Exploring Oil Painting, with Glenda Blake

Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., October 19-November 16, 2015

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

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, October 19-November 16, 2015. 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.

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.