Tuesday, September 25, 2018


      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


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.