When you are 8, and your dream is to be a zookeeper, and you ordered a tadpole habitat over a month ago, and you had the neighbor come every day while you were away camping to check the mailbox so that your tadpole (which was supposed to come that week) would not bake in the mailbox…and when you came home…it had not arrived as promised…and every day for the next two weeks you skipped down the driveway to meet the maillady and came shuffling back witout the tadpole…and now you have just started back to school and have to wait until you get home on the afternoon bus to check and see if….if…IF your leopard frog tadpole has come yet !!!!!
Well I suppose then you would be so frustrated that you too would be driven to put up a sign on your front porch …
Every window and door is open to the coolest air of the season… delicious.
Spent yesterday trolling the internet researching feng shui for a new series of paintings. Moved some things around in the studio according to the bagua map. Polly’s purple pumps now adorn the kitchen and the bathroom got a makeover including putting the toilet seat down so that our money isn’t tempted to flow out. Even cleared away the props from the front door, which I never use, to allow the good chi to move through the studio. Feels better already.
The balancing act continues today as I dust off some of Aunt Imy’s teacups to see what stories they have for me to paint next. But before I get to the easel, it’s time to introduce a new category for this bloggy thing…
WHERE’S YOUR HAT BEEN LATELY ?
And here’s the first installment… from my dear friend Saren who was recently on a well earned girls only vacation in Cape May. She took along her well earned Patron hat…and it did some travelin’…
Way to go gals…
and this just in… Tally gets in on the fun
Get that hat out there and let’s see where YOU have been…
Next up: The Cruisers, Ted and Chris, looking dapper as ever…weigh in from that swinging hot spot…the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Grab some lobstah in Menemsha for us boys !
Took some extra grit this morning but we did manage to load up our little family and haul our sleepy selves up to the high school for the South Beach Supercharged Walk. Week 2. It’s a lot prettier than the alternating days’ exercise routine…trust me. And it does feel great to get the stiff old joints moving early in the day, come home to a protein filled meal, shower up and be charged up to get right to work at the easel.
I made a detour today to check email and found a note from friend Jen on the Vineyard,
” Congratulations once again on MV Times front page. Great article, but where’s your picture? “.
Here’s a link to that article …
Click on this image to read article.
Brooks Robards called for an interview last week and we had an interesting conversation about the many interpretations and definitions of REALISM in art today. She pushed me to clarify where I felt my artwork fit into that genre.
People often respond that my paintings “look just like a photograph”, but I am not a Photorealist. not as Estes, Close and Goings and others defined the genre in the 60’s. Here’s a brief definition from Wikipedia..
Photorealist painting cannot exist without the photograph. In Photorealism, change and movement must be frozen in time which must then be accurately represented by the artist. Photorealists gather their imagery and information with the camera and photograph. Once the photograph is developed (usually onto a photographic slide) the artist will systematically transfer the image from the photographic slide onto canvases. This is done by either projecting the slide or grid techniques. The resulting images are often direct copies of the original photograph but are usually larger than the original photograph or slide. This results in the photorealist style being tight and precise, often with an emphasis on imagery that requires a high level of technical prowess and virtuosity to simulate, such as reflections in specular surfaces and the geometric rigor of man-made environs.
20th century photorealism can be contrasted with the similarly literal style found in trompe l’oeil paintings of the 19th century. However, trompe l’oeil paintings tended to be carefully designed, very shallow-space still-lifes, employing illusionistic devices such as the use of shadows to cause small objects to appear to exist above the surface of the painting. (Trompe l’oeil literally means “fool the eye.”) The photorealism movement moved beyond this illusionism to tackle deeper spatial representations (e.g. urban landscapes) and took on much more varied and dynamic subject matter.
In so far as a Photorealist is trying to make their paintings look like an actual photograph they are focusing on a two dimensional product. The craftsmanship has to be strong, the technique flawless, in order to convince the viewer, but the subject matter is static, representing a moment or snapshot in time.
This differs from my goal, at least what I am trying to aim for, which is to uncover layers of meaning and narrative and light from the subjects in my paintings which represents them in an arch of time and history.
I do use photographs for reference when I can’t sit the subject down in front of my easel, but have, sometimes, hundreds of shots that relay information as to detail, design and form. Coupled with sketches and studies over time and in many different conditions of light and space, I build a composition, especially with the still lifes, that often could not exist in the “real” world. Even with the landscapes and figurative work, elements may be altered to enhance the structure of the composition or the narrative. But, hopefully, the essence endures.
I appreciate your generous and kind words about the paintings Brooks, and you got the point that I so clumsily was trying to articulate…that that third dimension is where the difference lies…from her article, she (Heather) says, “I aim to be three-dimensional. That’s where the soul comes in. I like having several layers in a painting. You have a whole narrative going, then you step back and look at the title and get a whole other idea. There’s a sense of mystery.”
Light, mystery, the patina of history, and above all a good dose of humble humor…that’s my reality, the realism I try to represent in my work.
I’m not sure which of my artist friends has the time or inclination to read these blog entries…but I would love to continue this conversation. What is your definition of Realism, and how does it inform your artwork?
Chime in and link us to some of your artwork while you’re at it. Opening new windows is what this blog is all about.
And now, it’s time to leave the cyber world and get to the easel…
After a hearty breakfast omelet, Gully and I communed with the birds and the cool morning air and watered the plants and listened for the whispers.
Yesterday afternoon, Amanda and her friend Margaret came for a visit. Amanda turns 21 on Saturday !!! and she and Margaret have an evening of restuarant hopping planned. They found the perfect dress for the occasion, are still searching for shoes and a clutch, and Gran has been saving some of Polly’s jewelry to adorn the young fashionable women’s attire. They were thrilled with the table full of necklaces and earrings and it made my heart sing to remember Polly wearing this one and that one. Ted was right, Polly would be so pleased to see these girls carrying on her stylish flair…
It has long been our tradition to remember loved ones with a windchime. A vessel for their spirit if they should choose to pass our way and visit for a while. Our yard is full of them and each one rings independently of the wind.
I knew that Polly’s had to be special. She was a formidable New Englander with a commandingly deep voice and whip-like wit. Pat had to get the tallest hook that the nursery had for this tall throaty chime, and it is nestled between the newly planted lace-cap hydrangeas which remind us of the Vineyard…. and now of our dear friend…
When I begin a painting the first step is to “oil out” the gessoed panel. A thin coat of oil paint is wiped onto the panel to tone down the blaring white and to give a layer of paint on which to build. If you have company for dinner the night before (which turned out to be a wonderful evening with Saren, Cori and Mike )… and are watching the neighbors’ dog while they are away and you get several phone calls in between and you and Pat spent a hilarious afternoon taking turns modeling for this next painting in house dresses and aprons and oven mitts…and you don’t have time to do this oiling out proceedure the day before…
well then you have to find something else the to do the next morning while you are waiting for it to dry…
I got up early today and quickly oiled out the panel on the studio porch and then went up to let Jed out for his morning check for all the wee beasties he tends in Sue’s rock garden. While he was running and playing I saw a deer in Walt’s corn field across the street. From her yard, you get a great view of the farm and, since Jed was otherwise occupied, the deer walked peacefully around the field and disappeared back into the corn field undisturbed. It got me to thinking about another painting I am beginning to work on… The Corn Trilogy.
In our corner of central Pennsylvania, corn is a repeating backdrop. Unlike the flat factory fields in the mid-west, corn fields here seem to tuck into the pockets and hollows between the heavily wooded hills…settling to hug the rolling landscape like Sandburg’s fog. This time of year, in a summer when we’ve had some decent rainfall, there is wall of a dusty bluegreen sage color on either side of every back road. From our studio yard I’ve been watching Walt’s corn field all summer.
But as you can see, it’s distant enough to read only as background. So today, when it caught my attention via the deer muse, and the first rays of the morning sun were coming through these hickory trees, I decided to come home, put my boots on and grab the camera and trespass myself right over there for a closer look.
But when I got up close and personal I realized… it’s missing its ears!
I’m still not sure what form this trilogy will take. I’ve seen some artist’s lately who are incorporating elaborate framing designs that resemble altar pieces surrounding paintings… hinged panels that open wing-style or close up into a cabinet that lend themselves well to the trilogy format. (see and explore Rob Evans new work as an example…Click Here ). And I found some very old sketches I had done decades ago, after seeing a show at the Danforth museum, with similar designs for some small cabinets that when opened reveal trompe l’oeuil paintings. So the symmetry of being drawn once again to paint from my authentic self, and the iconic gesture of the corn fields in their annual rise to the sky, and the challenge of taming both in a new format has my synapses on overdrive.
I’m going to chronicle the development of The Corn Trilogy and will set up a separate category for anyone interested in following along.
Meanwhile, the panel for today’s painting is dry and ready for the sketch to be traced on. I can’t wait to get some paint on that puppy.
And as I sit working at my easel, I can watch while, across the street, the corn fairies dust those tassels and tend to the stalks and get that crop ready for the artiste…
The wind has changed. Thunder in the distance and Gully is on alert. The ions are charging but the sun is out and the sky is as blue as the one in this painting…
Strider's Surrender Oil on Panel 92" x 48"
An article appeared yesterday in the Martha’s Vineyard Times describing how this painting came to be and where it will be going to live. Exciting and humbling for the artist. You can read the article by clicking here…
When we were on the Vineyard last month, I sat on the wooden crates out back of Larsen’s…with a plate of steamers and paid my respects to the Quitsa Strider II. She’s still there though her days are bittersweet as she no longer can go a huntin’ like she used to.
The big old boat at the dock in Menemsha
And then we have this just in… my brother Bill and his wife Laura are on Martha’s Vineyard this week and made a trip to the Granary Gallery to check on all this hubub themselves…
The wind is still up but the thunder has passed so I can set my sails and see what’s over the next horizon… HN
You, my dear, are now older than your Mom and I were when we first met. Amazing.
With most of your birthday hours already sailing by I will just say Happy Happy Birthday…and post a few of my favorite photos of you. Most of them are from the very first day I met you. I have never forgotten the sheer joy in your brother’s eyes and the impish sparkle shining back at us from yours. You were a happy smiling light that I wrapped up in my back pocket to help me find my way through the shadows back then. Looking back on these pictures today, what I remember most is finally feeling balanced… with Danny’s hand holding mine on one side…and your tiny one reaching up to take the other. Loving and loved.
A shout of celebration to our nephew Neill who has a birthday today. Haven’t seen him in a while but we are thinking of him and sending him lots of hot air to blow out those candles !
I have started each of the last 5 days by heading to the easel to get back to work…but the muses have had other plans. Spent three of those days in the garage workshop making some bookcases and benches for the studio out of the walnut boards which Jamie had milled up for us at an Amish sawmill after he cut the dying trees down from the studio yard a couple years ago. It felt absolutely wonderful to be picking up the hand tools again and I consider the blistered skin on my uncalloused hands to be well-earned.
Mid-way through the first day I heard an unfamiliar sound and stepped out of the swealteringly hot garage to find that the barn across the street was getting a new roof. A couple of Amish woodworkers were dancing across the rickety rafters and tapping the shingles off so fast that they sounded like woodpeckers. The sound I had heard was the long swish as each shingle came loose and slid down the length of the roof and sailed onto the lawn. Here are a couple photos…
Did I complain about being in the heat ? They don’t even appear to have broken a sweat.
Took an even rarer afternoon to visit with friends and we soaked in Saren’s pool for hours and solved all of the problems in the world. Fortunately there were no cameras at that event, but the sunburn lingers and so does the camaraderie.
So while I was working at the computer today, I found my way via this WordPress blog site to one of my all time favorite authors… Laurie R. King. Here is her website and blog http://laurierking.com/index.php . It prompted me to finally write that note of thank you to her for captivating my mind and imagination for years. I listen to audio books while painting and since that can be as much as 60 -70 hours in a week there are few books in our local library that I haven’t read…twice. The first book of hers I read was Folly . It took my breath away as it felt like she had been looking over my shoulder writing my life. I told her I borrowed her title for the painting I was working on at the time…you can link to it here at my website to the painter’s notes to read more about the impact that book had, continues to have…as I bring it out once a year or so to enjoy the details and spend time with the characters again.
She has written several stand alone books and two other series and every single one of them is now a favorite. As a lover of mysteries, well written stories and gutsy female characters, I can highly recommend her work and encourage you to find your way to her books. I may just dust off my copy of Folly and join you.
It’s getting late. Bob stopped by a little while ago for a visit and we sat outside on the studio porch rockers until Pat got home…now the two of them are finishing their frosty mugs and the sun is setting over my shoulder here in the office. Time to wrap it up and re-enter the real world.
That’s enough time off…tomorrow it’s back to the easel for sure ! We’ll see… HN