Thursday, November 29, 2018

November

"Tank Engine," one of my most recent images,

      I missed a post in October. Mainly because there was so much going on. Which, if one is going to skip a post on their art blog, it's not such a bad thing that the reason is because there are so many art happenings. Earlier this month I participated in an open studio tour across South Louisiana as a member of Nunu's Art collective. October was busy in anticipation of preparing for this event.


Logo for the Ope Studio Tour

The Open Studio Tour had two aspects. The first and most obvious is the event itself where people come in to your studio, examine your work, talk to you, and watch as you make new pieces. But, in an effort to get people excited and thinking about the upcoming tour, a separate exhibition of all the participating artists was curated for display at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. There was an opening and reception for this event on November 6th. I wanted to create a new, unique image for this show, so I was involved in trying to get that image completed in time for the exhibition. The title of the piece is "Ooh! I like that hat," because everyone who had seen the work being made had that exact comment.

"Ooh! I like that hat!" completed October 2018.


      This image, and the one at the top of the page were completed using pages from old discarded books. I have access to a lot of discarded books, so this works well in that regard. But, I think the texture of the different pages, as well as the text of the book showing through the painted image add an interesting visual element. In these particular examples an old law reporter was used. I enjoy reading the pages through the painting, and can't help but think about the people who were involved in these court cases and how the court proceedings actually contributed to the creation of my art.

Me, Carole Lancon, and Shane Seneca during the tour. Click on the image to enlarge.

       I really enjoyed participating in this event. Art making is such a solitary act, that opening the studio and inviting people in to see you work, as well as working in close proximity to other artists was stimulating in way that I have not really experienced since studio art courses in college. Establishing yourself in a community of creatives helps you make art just as much as practicing your craft and techniques.











   

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

September


      I am very pleased to be participating in a group exhibition at the Prairie Arts Center in North Platte, NE. This show is featured for the entire month of September, and is being held in conjunction with Rail Days 2018.  North Platte is home to Baily Yard, the worlds largest rail classification yard. It is someplace that I have always wanted to visit, and it is gratifying that my art is on display here.

     I want to thank DeeAnn Tatum for the pictures below, and for alerting me to the exhibition. She just happened to post a call from the Prairie Arts Center for railroad art, and I just happened to come across it. The train images I submitted were part of my Recent Works exhibition this past February. It is interesting that they have had so much exposure, as I had never really intended to show them. In my Recent Works show, I included a few train sketches and explained that these are the images I use to warm up my art skills, experiment with new ideas, and just get  an image down. For me, the train images are particularly helpful when working through a creative block.

      I don't really believe they are "finished works." However, I had very positive reviews on them and the reactions have been surprising. When I saw the call for art, I knew I had just the thing. The serendipity of it all is fun. It also serves as a lesson for finding your niche. No matter what type of art you are working on, and no matter how you accept or reject the image you have created, somebody somewhere will respond and connect with what you have made. This is part of what makes art so incredible!


My two paintings on display in North Platte, NE. Courtesy of DeeAnn Tatum.
 

An additional image, with my works behind the layout. Courtesy of DeeAnn Tatum.






      I was recently given the postcard pictured below for Stephan Wiesmore, an artist and an opening of his in LA earlier this year. Much of the contemporary art that I have seen of late is similar to this in that it doesn't depict anything and is non-representational.

Postcard for artist Stephen Wiesmore
     

      It is noteworthy to me that this is the type of imagery that seems to be taking off lately. In June I commented about a show in Lafayette, LA that was also dealing with non-representational compositions. Recently a call went out for art to be loaned locally to an office for display, and when I responded with my art I was told that they were looking for images that focused on shape and color, and more non-representational depictions. My work was not accepted.

      There is nothing wrong with non-representational art. However, part of me can't help but wonder if this is a reaction to the times we are living in. I think about the art produced when I was in art school 20 years ago. Much of what I recall was representational art and the works from the Sensations show come to mind. These works caused a lot of controversy, and as I think about the representational artworks that are recognized as significant to art history, many of them also caused controversy in their day. Creating controversial representational art might be a bit much for the current climate of popular culture, where everything seems to  cause controversy. It is hard to avoid controversy unless you deal in shapes, color, or some other element that does not depict a person or object.

     As a librarian, I have glanced into this topic, and it does appear that non-representational art is being talked about a little more than it used to be. However, there's more information about where art has gone in the past, than where it is going currently. There's an interesting article from the Huffington Post that addresses some of these ideas. It talks about how artists all want to push the avant garde including the use of non-representational subject matter.  But it doesn't explain everything, and I think that this is a topic worth thinking more about.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

August

An unfinished painting that I recently unearthed.
     
     Greetings! Every month it seems like I just get my blog updated, and I have turn around and get a new one up. I remember when I was updating weekly, and I thought the turn around was quick. Since I have switched to the monthly format, I thought I might get some more time to reflect on my posts. Nope!

     Anyway, I was recently rummaging through some of my old paintings in my mother's basement. I was looking for a particular image that I wanted to send to an art show. I couldn't find that image, but I came across the one depicted above. It is incomplete, and I'm not sure I remember why I abandoned it. It is a fantastic image, and I now have it up and plan to finish it. 
     

A close-up of the cells in the painting
      

      As I look that this image. I vaguely remember being disappointed in the way the cells were revealing themselves. In the closeup above, you can see the detail of the "bubbles," or individual cells I was trying to depict. These are made with tiny impressions in the paper, and my hope was that the watercolor would collect in these areas, and make the circles stand out more. This didn't happen, and when one looks at the overall image it can be difficult to see the tiny indentations.

      As I look at the image now, I don't see this as a problem. It just means the viewer has to spend a little more time sussing out the details. Isn't it funny how time can change the way one sees their own work? Each time I begin an image, I have in mind how I would like it to turn out. But of course this rarely happens. The real and the ideal are two  completely different things, as Plato pointed out many centuries ago. Very often I am disappointed with the final image of something I have painted, and I have found this to be true for many artists I have talked with. In the case of this painting, I never even made it to the final image. I gave up before it could get that far.

    However, I now think the painting deserves a second chance. I don't really remember where I was hoping for this mage to go. With fresh eyes, I can see new places for me to take it, and the painting has a new lease on life. This isn't the first time I have pulled out an image of mine that I had put away in disgust. It's also not the first time I have reexamined a work and decided it is not as bad as I thought. The takeaway here is that if you don't like where your art, or project, or whatever it is you are working on is going, put it away for a bit. When you pull it out later it may just inspire you to work in a new direction!





      As you may recall, this is the image I am currently working on. I wanted to include this as part of a mixed media piece. I sometimes like to work with mixed media imagery. Back when I was studying ceramics I had a teacher who was all about making parts. One would throw on the wheel, or create a spout, pull a handle, or any of a number of ways of working with clay. Then after there were a number of individual clay components, once could assemble them together to create a unique vessel or form. It was a nice way to create freely. 


The current image I'm working on.

      I find that the same ideas can apply towards a painting. One begins with an image, maybe several kinds of paper, some textures, some colors, and then all these elements are put together in one image. It's just another way of working, and the finished image can sometimes be a surprise. I'm now at the point where I need to create a stretcher in order to add all these elements together.


Construction of stretchers.
    

      I don't work in a terribly large space. So the few times I have needed to build a stretched canvas, I have had to work outside. Lately, the weather in Louisiana has been quite rainy. When you need to work outside, this can slow things down. So for now I'm working between storms trying to get this done. Hopefully I will have this finished soon, and can share it with you. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

July

Mrs. Browns Welcoming Committee. Watercolor

      Greetings! My July posting is a two for one. First up, I have finally finished the painting that I was talking about last month. I'm not sure why it took me so long to finish this painting. I do know that the composition is one that I have attempted in the past and was never very satisfied. I started out feeling very good about this image, but now that it is done, like the others before it, I find that it is somewhat mediocre. I love step-by-step, photo progression stories, so I'll outline the story of this painting as we go!

The first wash. Doesn't look like much.

      If you know me, you know that I have spent some time in Scotland. One of the things I did while over there, was to visit the Orkney Islands. I love the Orkneys. They have a uniquely stark beauty about them. Anyway, the group I traveled with had rented a mini bus/van. When we arrived at our accommodations it was time to unload the van.   

2nd or 3rd wash. Color is introduced.



      We were staying in Stromness, and the roads in Stromness are extremely narrow. There wasn't really room to park the van and unload right in front of the building. To do so would require blocking the main road.

Later on I added stones to the wall.

      Now you have to understand, Stromness is more or less a fishing village on the side of a hill. There's even a spot where you can climb to the top of the hill and overlook the entire town. It's a lovely view, and it's nice to see the village stretch across your feet as you look down. In order to prevent a backup on the main thoroughfare, our little traveling party decided to park up on the hill, and make use of a path down to where we were staying.

Refinements
    

      This idea meant that we had to take several trips up and down the path as we unloaded our van. It's been a while since I have been to Stromness, but a quick peek on Google maps revealed that this same path is still there. It has steps, is paved, and I imagine it gets quite a bit of use. 


Crows have been added.


      Anyway, as we first descended the hill, we noticed a naked tree in an enclosed courtyard. In the starkness of the Orkney islands there are very few trees due to the severe winds that blow in the winter. This was a large tree protected by the walls of the courtyard. I imagine it was not bloomed out, as it was still early spring when I visited. 


The image is complete

 
      It was however, covered in crows. There were crows everywhere! They were swooping, calling to one another, and giving us all the once over. I have never seen so many crows nesting in one spot in my entire life. One member of our party commented "Well, that's a rather ominous welcome." And it stands out very vividly in my mind. I have tried to capture that experience several times in the past and have been disappointed. This painting, while not perfect comes close.




      Part two of this post concerns a recent exhibition I saw. I recently saw the work of Evan Koch. He has a display of recent work at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, LA.


Poster from the show.



      His show is titled "Laminae Verso." His paintings are full of vibrant color and energy. There is a lot to appreciate in his work, and he is a talented artist. However, I know at least two other artists working in a similar fashion, and I have seen work by others whom I don't know, that are also very much alike. 
     Art is not created in a vacuum, and artists very much feed of of each other. I think this is another example of that phenomena. This is not to say that I don't like the work, or that it shouldn't be created. But, when the same ideas are repeated again and again, it can be tiring. I often like to view the work of other artists as a source of inspiration, and I would recommend a viewing of this work, if you have time and are in the Lafayette area. But my work is not likely to follow this developing style. And that's okay too. There's room for everyone in the art world!



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June

My current project that is taking way to long.

       Greetings! The image above is what I am currently working on. I have become quite frustrated and angry with this image. While I like what is happening with the composition and overall picture, it is taking entirely too long to complete! I started this painting at the end of April with the idea of finishing sometime in May. I had ideas about posting the progress of this painting step-by-step as my May blog. But as time passed, and the end of may grew closer and closer it seemed like this goal would not be achieved. And indeed, I missed my May blog post!  Despite all that, this image is still not complete.

      As I continue to work on this painting I will also continue to document progress. So one day, hopefully quite soon, I can post the completed image along with the step-by-step photographs. I suppose that this has not been a project of total loss, as I have created some lovely sketches of crows for use in this image. 
A sample of the crow sketches.
However, I am anxious to return to painting faces. In my last post I commented that I wanted to take a break. Well, I think that break has lasted long enough and have already begun to do some sketches of faces for future paintings. The important thing is to keep at it, and keep painting. I know for many artists that this can sometime be a struggle. Especially when the timing of things does not work out.  

Some sketches I want to turn into paintings.






                                          
A sculpture, and the postcard from a recent show



      I have also been attending more art openings and receptions. It's good to get out and see some live art. It gets ideas flowing and allows for one to see how other artists are working and thinking. The above image was a ceramic piece featured at a show for local art teachers at the Firehouse Gallery in Baton Rouge. It was my favorite work at the show, and I am not surprised it was selected to represent the show on the postcard. It's not often that local art teachers are recognized, so this was an excellent opportunity for them. Keep watching this space for more info about exhibitions and artist interviews. 
                                                                

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April





      Happy April everyone! Hopefully it is spring where ever you happen to reside. It is very spring-like here is Louisiana. I was exited to be a part of the Every Woman art exhibition at Nunu's in Arnaudville, LA. The theme of the show was about, or by women artists. Most of the participating artists were women, but a few men, like myself were also invited to participate. The reception, as you can see from the poster was on April 7. But, the show itself runs through May.

Attendees of the Every Woman
show reception in Apr. 7
   
      The reception was well attended, for a rainy Saturday afternoon. After-all, what better way is there to spend a rainy day than to look at some art? 

      There were many interesting pieces. Including several items of wearable art created by Lori Henderson. And a unique sculpture by Shane Seneca


A hat created by Lori Henderson

Metalwork by Shane Seneca.

     My piece was hung next to a lovely painting by artist Janelle Hebert. I selected one of the paintings that hung in my recent solo show in Baton Rouge. This particular painting is based on an amalgamation of several librarians that I have come to know from library school on up through my career as an arts librarian. Of the images I had on hand, this one seemed the most appropriate for the theme of the show.

My painting "Let me think" at the
Every Woman show.

     It was a fun reception, and I think the show is a hit. Nunu's is a great art and cultural site, and I very pleased to be a part of it. I have more news from there just below. But first an update on my most recent painting.





      My most recent painting was finished at the beginning of the month.

The Beer Man 2018

       I think I included an image of this painting while it was in progress. But, this is the finished product. It it based primarily on my Grandfather, who passed away in early November. For the next painting, I am going to step away from faces for a while. Right now it is little more than sketches. As I get further along, I will post my progress here. 









      The final thing that I want to mention this month, is that I have sold my first painting at Nunu's. In addition to the exhibition space featured at the beginning of this blog, the collective also has a separate space where member artists work is for sale. I have four paintings in this space, and "Mr. Babbineaux" sold!

" Mr. Babbinueaux" 2016 Sold at Nunu's

      I don't really measure an artist by how many works are sold. To me, it's more important to get the work out and seen. The feedback and the response from viewers is what I am most interested in. However, there are those that do measure the success of an artist in this way, and I haven't sold anything since I moved to Louisiana. So it's good to have hit this benchmark again.  

Well, that's it for now. Come back next month to see whats new!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March




   Following  the success of my show last month, I am attempting to join the NUNU Art Collective in Arnaudville, LA. From the Nunu website: "The NUNU Collective is an educational nonprofit that works to encourage the devlopment of artistic talents, skills, knowledge and business savvy by connecting artists with other artisits, businesses, organizations and programs. It serves as a stage/platform, gallery for creative living by facilitating community, economic, and artistic/cultural development."

The NUNU logo.
   

      I have visited the NUNU a few times. I have seen some of their galleries, and it is a nice space with a lot of positive energy. The variety of art is exceptional. They have everything from quilts and jewelry, to traditional paintings and photography.



A view of one of the interior gallery spaces.
 

       They have a show coming up, and I was invited to participate in that as well. I dropped off a few paintings over the weekend. Now all I have to do is wait and see if I am jurried in. More information about the NUNU can be found here: http://nunuaccollective.homesteadcloud.com/







      I n addition to all of that news, Artsfest is happening at the college where I work. Artsfest is an annual event that is free and open to students and to the public . It is an opportunity to experience visual, performing, and creative arts of all kinds. Over the years I have seen some amazing events,and some incredible work.

      As part of this event, the organizers have been decorating the library display area for the past few years. This year they have outdone themselves. Ceramics students were asked to create vessels, or decorative pots for plants. I'm not sure if they were required to actually put plants in the pots once they were finished, but it looks like all of them did so.

The library display area featuring pottery and plants. 

      One of my favorite pieces is displayed prominently on the end. The pot is primarily blue. I seem to be attracted to blue, and is a color that I use frequently in my own work. There's also something about the color blue that appeals to the masses. When I took pottery classes the common idea if one wanted to sell their work was to just glaze it blue.


My favorite pot, pictured to the right. 

    It feels good to be part of a community and an organization that values the arts. There are some in my corner of Louisiana that think Baton Rouge is devoid of culture and creativity, and it is nice to see evidence where this idea is challenged. 






     T o wrap things up, I thought I would show the progress on my latest painting. I am back to faces, and this investigation is likely to continue for some time. This image is of the beer man, and is based on my grandfather who spent many years working for Coors in Coloroado

.

Progress on my latest painting.