Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Its My Party

Almost Home 2007
5 x 6
Private Collection

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you

Leslie Gore, 1963

A couple of weeks ago someone said to me "All your paintings are dark. Are you a dark person?" I laughed and explained that my work involves a range of values that are sometimes, but not always, at the darker end of the value scale. But, it got me to thinking.

For most of my life, I have been "fixer". If a problem or unhappy situation arose, I would almost immediately begin to work on how I could "solve" the problem - how I could fix it. One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn in life is that some problems can't be solved, some loss cannot be recovered, and some mistakes cannot be undone. But, thankfully, I also learned that living fully meant allowing feelings of grief, or doubt and loss. And, perhaps most importantly, to use those feelings, as well as joy and wonder, as raw materials for creative work. Those darker feelings add texture, depth and counterpoint to our lives and to our work as artists. Andrew Wyeth said that he was just a "clever watercolorist", until the death of his father. He used that tragic event to find himself as an artist, to allow his most deeply felt ideas and emotions to come to the surface in his work. In my own case, the landscape seems to tap into a reservoir of feelings and ideas- awe, wonder, joy, mystery, loss, longing. I need every single one of them to do the work I was meant to do.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Update: I've posted information on two virtual classes here. Both are four weeks and start in March.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Virtual Learning

Spring Evening
10 x 10
Private Collection

I got some great comments on this blog about the post on virtual workshops and many responses from artists directly who expressed an interest in not only classes but one on one online learning. I'm in the process of designing several individual programs for interested artists which are tailored to fit their interests, needs, available time and technology. For example, one artist wants a once a week assignment and critique/discussion on a specific topic (color). Another is interested in learning about glazing techniques and wants a monthly assignment and critique. These individual courses will be geared to artists with some experience, while the classes could include beginners. I'm thinking that these individual courses can also act as a learning experience for me about what works best in online formats. I can handle about 4 of these at a time and I have two in the works. So, if you are interested in a one on one course tailor made for you or a critique of a body of work, please let me know.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Virtual Learning

Work in Progress
After the Rain 14 x 18

I laid in this painting about a month ago in preparation for the demo I did last month. The lay in sat around in my studio, and then this week the rainy sky seemed to provide the right idea to finish it. This is very rough-just the initial dry brush under painting and a first pass on the sky. I seem to be a little bit obsessed with fence lines and windbreaks at the moment, so there will be more coming soon I'm sure.

I've been thinking this week about how the art world- and more specifically, my little corner of it- is changing. The most obvious change is how virtual connections have expanded our opportunities as artists to show and sell our work. But, all this activity in cyber space also encourages new ways of learning. My husband has been bugging me to organize some sort of virtual workshop for artists who would like to study with me, but are not able to make it to a class here in Texas. I like the idea for several reasons. Although face to face learning is undoubtably the best choice, I know that often a workshop experience- crammed into two, three or five days- can simply be too much information, too fast. A virtual class would give me a chance to provide more written material which could be read and studied on the participant's schedule and video demos which could be viewed many times rather than just one live session. Right now I'm thinking in terms of a blog that would be able to be accessed only by registered students and would have links to written material, video demonstrations and images, and where students could post comments and questions. This could be supplemented by video conference calls using Skype where work could be critiqued and discussed.

I'd really love to hear from anyone who has had any experience with an online class, particularly one involving visual learning. What worked, what didn't- was it a worthwhile effort and would you do it again? Or, from anyone else with ideas! Thanks!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another Word For Feeling

Evening Pines #2
9 x 8 oil on linen
Available at Deborah Paris Fine Art

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles to keep
an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch,
or an old acquaintance among the pines. ~Henry David Thoreau

This week has been a bit chaotic- house guests, a painting deadline for a show and other personal business to attend to. But, I didn't want too much time to pass before acknowledging all the interesting comments to my last post. I think many artists can identify with that feeling that a shift in the work is underway. Another point that was mentioned several times is the role of emotion in painting. I used to think that painting was mostly an intellectual exercise, in pursuit of an aesthetic concept. Now, I understand that it could not have held my interest and captivated my imagination so powerfully, if that was all it meant to me. George Inness, the great late 19th century American landscape painter, believed that the power of painting is in its appeal to the emotions. Edgar Payne, an early 20th century landscape master said "knowledge precedes execution." I think they were both right. Just as the poet selects a perfect word, phrase or form to reveal meaning, everything we can learn or understand about our craft, our materials, and our subject is brought to bear to convey our passion for the things we choose to paint and for painting itself. As artists, we need both our reason and our heart-I know I do.

"Painting is but another word for feeling." John Constable