Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vision Board

A few days ago I wrote about going to Slash Coleman's and doing the vision boards.  I finally got around to scanning them so thought I'd post what I came up with.  The two seem quite different both in intent and color.  The blue one is about Chris and me and our dreams together.  The red one is more about my art and the goals I'll have to attain more on my own.

Aspects of the blue one are already happening - we're heading to OBX (the Outer Banks) in March for a week.  I'll report back as more visions become manifest!  I'd love to hear about your goals and intentions and how they're coming true too!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To own a nude or not to own a nude, that is the question...

I was talking to a friend tonight about who buys my paintings of nudes.  She was asking if the models themselves buy the art.  Yes.  Sometimes they do.  And no, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes they're just doing me a favor by modelling but aren't interested in owning the pieces themselves.

She said her husband was wondering who else would buy nudes of someone else?  She pointed out that most of the famous artists throughout time have done nudes which are now in the museums all over the world.  That's true.  But are they in households all over the world?

That started a discussion about what it would mean to own a nude...  One of my models was worried about buying the painting of herself because she didn't want visitors to see it.  I suggested she hang it in her bedroom.  She said people go in there sometimes too, so that wouldn't be comfortable for her. 

My friend wondered aloud what made her uncomfortable about having a painting of a nude in her home.  What does it (supposedly) say about a person if they display a nude?

One gallery owner told me she doesn't show nudes because they are too confrontational.  She doesn't want people to have to see them if they don't want to see them.  What on earth could be so bad about them??!  What do naked bodies stir up in us that we have trouble being with?

I'd love to take a poll - would you have a painting of a naked woman or man in your home?  Why or why not?  I'm so curious!  I seriously hope you'll respond. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

On Manifesting

This past Saturday, Chris and I joined some other folks at Slash Coleman's in making Vision Boards for the coming year.  The idea is to get out some magazines, scissors, glue, and a piece of poster board.  Start looking through the magazines and cut out whatever appeals to you that you think you might want to manifest in your life in the coming year.  Glue it onto the board.  Very simple!

I've done it before but haven't kept track of what comes true over the course of the year.  Slash shared his from last year with us.  It was very impressive how much had happened that he had envisioned!  He's a powerful manifestor - clearly! 

I started doing mine and was cutting out stuff like the Art Museum in Bilbao (which I'd like to see, plus I'd like to have my art hanging there), words like "The Women's Museum of Art", "Wild Heart", etc.  Within seconds of gluing down the word "Museum", one of the other participants, whom I don't know well - yet! - asked me if I would be interested in collaborating with her on a show at a museum near Richmond.  THAT is powerful manifestation!  Of course I said yes!  Because the details haven't been set in the slightest, I won't give any of them out yet, but the other person and I are both very excited about the possibilities!  I've been working on trying to find a museum to show in for a while and have set as a goal that I'll line up 3 museum shows this year, so this is an awe-inspiring start!

I LOVE serendipity!  It's astonishing to me how generous the Universe is in responding to requests for good.  I shouldn't be surprised because I am regularly blessed, but it is always delightfully surprising when things I ask for happen!  Often I'll play a game with the Universe - I'll ask for something, then at the end of the day, I'll check back in with myself and, more often than not, am delighted to find it has happened.  For example, I'll ask for prosperity and I'll get a new student or a check in the mail or I'll sell a painting.  Or someone will give me a gift.  It's like we're playing a game.  I get so tickled to see the Universe's creativity! I recommend this game highly!  It makes life very fun!
This morning I woke up and hurried and scurried so I could get to my massage appointment on time so I could relax properly!  Silly.  It was a lovely massage, though not quite relaxing.  Carol, my massage therapist, is quite fantastic.  She was working with my fascia (the parchment like tissues on top of everything but the skin) to try to stretch them to give me some relief from the back strain and hand pain I've been experiencing the last 10 days or so.  It's been pretty close to excruciating.  NO FUN.  I hope it's going to help, but I don't think I helped myself along too well by coming home and heading straight out to the studio.

I've been so excited to work on Mother and Daughter Jocks.  I've had way too little time lately, so I was feeling especially anxious to get some work done today.  I had mixed up the paint last time I was out here so I'd be ready to go.

I was thinking about which brush to use for maximum coverage, then I realized I actually wanted to use my hands!  Having just gotten the massage, I had the feeling of Carol's hands rubbing my body, making it feel better.  I wanted to create the mother's body on canvas the same way.  I imagined myself rubbing my hands along her body where her body curves.  I realize that could sound sexual, but it wasn't at all - anymore than a massage is sexual.  It was a lovely image, creating flesh on two dimensions.  It felt completely right.  I've started work this way before then have moved on to brushes, but I think this time I might just stay with using my hands.  I like the rougher surface.  I'm not finished with the body - I can see areas that need refinement, but I do like the surface this makes.  The daughter has been done so far with a brush, but next time I have time to work, I'll use my hands there too.  I think I'll keep the background smooth.  I enjoy the contrast.  Not sure what I'll do with the racquet and ball.

I painted the mother's face today, too, but it is so far from how it needs to be that I'm not showing that aspect of it.  The colors got very messed up and ugly!  I'll tackle it next time I have time - which may not be until next Monday.  I'm going out of town this coming weekend and am leaving at 2 on Friday so may not have time to work before then.

I'll be going to a Quaker Women's Retreat where I'll give a workshop on Women's Body Image.  I'm going to show paintings and photos of women through the ages and lead a discussion on how the image of the ideal beauty has changed so much.  I'm looking forward to the opportunity to talk about all this stuff I think about all the time with a group of women who are also interested in the topic.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Talk 20 on February 10th

talk20 is Back at 1708 Gallery

With the success of the first talk20, 1708 Gallery and C3: the Creative Change Center are hosting the second talk20 event on Wednesday, February 10 at 6 p.m. at 1708 Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

talk20 is based on a series of short presentations of 20 slides each. Each presenter has 20 seconds per slide to express his or her very own artistic voice. The event will feature a hybrid of educators and professionals working in some branch of the creative field.

Participants for the upcoming event include artist and founder of the Real Small Art Tiffany Glass Ferreira; innovative and sustainable architecture Tamara Van Meter; painter Susan Singer (best known for her portraiture of naked women); LEGO artist Brian Korte; visionary architect Peter Fraser; artistic director for Amaranth Contemporary Dance Scott Puttman; visual artist Rosemary Jesionowski, and photographer Gordon Stettinius.

talk20 is not simply a lecture, but it focuses more along the lines of a gathering, an open forum for the dissemination of ideas in art, architecture and design.

Doors for the event open at 5:30 p.m. Complimentary light food will be provided by F.W. Sullivan’s, and a cash bar will also be available. To register for the event, please click HERE.

Statistics Update

A month or so ago I wrote about how many people have viewed my blog and where they're from, and I said I'd give an update at some point.  I'm such a geek in some ways!  I love keeping track of stuff like that!

Last time I wrote, people from 37 countries had looked at my blog.  Now it's up to 50!  It's such a strange, strange thought to think that people from so many different places know something about me and my artwork.  How do they find it?  What do they think?  How does my cultural prejudice show?  How is my perception of the world different than theirs?  I'd so love to know!

People from 39 states had seen my blog last time.  It's up to 42.  There's a huge gap in the north western states like North Dakota and Wyoming.  1329 people from the US have visited the blog.   1654 people from 6 continents have seen it.  Very cool!

If even 1 person has become more aware of the way women are perceived in our culture, then the work I'm doing has value.  If anyone has begun to appreciate her- or himself more as a result of this blog, then I am a happy woman.  It feels like good work, what I'm meant to be doing.  It doesn't get better than that.  Thank you to each of you for being here.  I appreciate each of you greatly.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Being an Artist

It's an interesting thing, this being an artist...

Yesterday I tutored - a lovely job which I enjoy completely. It's wonderful working with teenagers and trying to help them understand academic material. I also love the one-on-one connection with each of them and feel enriched by each student I teach.

But that's a different world from the one I inhabit when I am at home. I change out of my "nice" clothes and into my paint-splattered jeans and ratty sweatshirt I got in 1987 from Freiburg, Germany. I go into the studio where I am alone either in blessed silence or with whatever noise I choose - music, NPR, my own voice. I stand in front of my current canvas and breathe in the essence of what I am trying to do - honor and evoke the spirit of a multi-dimensional human being with paint, on cloth, supported by wood.

I set to the tasks...

Mix paint, match colors, squeeze tubes. Globs and squirts that morph into smooth skin and flowing hair.

Choose the right brushes - filberts of different sizes and materials - hogs hair for large, crude details; synthetic for smaller areas; sable for the smallest finest smoothing over of surface of skin.

Absorb the photograph, look at a particular section of it, find it on the painting, compare the two to see if I am beginning to capture what I see with the efforts of my self.

I feel satisfied, complete. I feel frustrated, scorn my efforts, re-assure myself this too will pass. I dip into more paint, apply it madly, dash it on, touch the canvas gently, scrub with the heel of my hand, whisper delicately with the tip of my little finger, stand back, gaze, rush forward, splash, apply, wipe out, delineate carefully. All in the course of a moment.

And so it goes. Moment after moment. Entranced by the process - master over it, slave to it, one and the same. Captivated by the woman I'm painting, loving her story, loving her self, loving her beauty, whining about the toes so difficult to paint, the fingers gnarled by time or flowing delicatedly from slender hands or scarred by life or thick with flesh. Joy in the moment, the rush of pure essence, at one with the creation of beauty.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Anne Truitt, Part II

Yesterday I wrote about the sculptor Anne Truitt and included some of her quotes which have inspired me.  Here are more of them...   

  "I am human; nothing human is alien to me. I was fired by this concept: the entire range of human experience is available to every single human being.

     "What [this] added up to for me was a decision to try to experience as much as I could with as open a mind as I could, in the hope that if I did so my desire to 'know God,' to understand 'the meaning of life,' might perhaps come to some result. At the least, I would undertake to lead a life as properly aligned as I could make it."
     When I go into the studio, or when I go to tutor, I try to remember to say a prayer to ask God to help me channel him in everything I say and do.  I want my artwork to be a direct expression of his love and creativity.  I want the words that come out of my mouth when I teach to be directly from him and ones that will help my students learn exactly what is right for them at that given moment.  I do my best teaching, my best painting, and my best partnering when I remember to get out of the way.

     "I walk around these sculptures (in her retrospective exhibit in 1991) in my mind and consider their existence. They look so objective. Yet each one sprang from the very core of my subjectivity. I see in them no trace of the hours and hours of intense labor by way of which they were made. People sometimes ask me if I feel as if my sculptures were my children. I do not. The love I feel for my children is unique in my experience. Nothing is comparable. But it occurs to me this morning that they too are transformations of secret, silent resources similar to those out of which these sculptures emerged." Looking at her sculptures, a person might think they were completely analytical pieces, devoid of feelings because they are so smooth and pure. I am fascinated to learn how much intensity is behind them. I have a feeling that's true of most artist's work - no matter how simple they look, they most likely contain all the intensity the artist could hold at the time. When I paint, sometimes the intensity comes through very clearly, like Dancing Woman. I was feeling a lot of feelings when I painted the final layer of it, and I think that is visible on the canvas. Other pieces have just as much intensity, but it is quieter and isn't as obvious.

     I love what she writes about teaching. She was a University professor for many years. "My faith in this way of teaching has grown over the years. I find that only honesty serves. I can have no hidden agenda, no inordinate urge to impose my influence. I must be open myself if I am to suggest that students open themselves to themselves. And I must use my highest energies.
     "...Teaching is an anxious business. A teacher has such power to damage, and the damage can be so subtle. It is a moral discipline to keep a watch on invidious motivations. On pride, for example, for just in the nature of the relationship between teacher and pupil, the teacher knows more and can dominate, to the detriment of a student's self-respect. A teacher's cruelty - not too strong a word - can be as unconscious as that inflicted by insensitive parents.
     "The finest teaching touches in a student a spring neither teacher nor student could possibly have preconceived. The Latin root of the word 'education' is educere, to lead forth. Teaching may elicit self-knowledge but unless it also leads students into an ever-broadening view of art and life, self-knowledge results only in self-expression."
     When I teach, I do my best to help students discover who they are. I feel like they know best what they need to express. My job is to ask the right questions or to give the right prompts then to listen then to get out of the way so they express what they've discovered. It's a glorious process!


Last Thursday Liz Kellinger hosted a meeting of the Collaborative Arts Group at her spectacularly beautiful studio at Plant Zero here in Richmond.  Every time I attend one of these meetings, I come away feeling like the Universe is answering my prayers!  This time was no exception.

The group was created to be a networking group for working artists and anyone else who is interested in the arts in any form - writers, artists, sculptors, photographers, collectors, interior designers, gallery owners - it runs the gamut.  It is an arm of C3, The Creative Change Center, whose mission statement reads as follows:
Founded in 2005 C3 - the Creative Change Center's mission is to be the region's creative resource and catalyst. C3's vision is to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of Richmond by engaging, connecting and strengthening Richmond's creative community. C3 offers a series of programs that focus on three areas: 1. Celebrate and catalyze creativity and innovation in the region; 2. Connect people and ideas; and 3. Recruit and retain talent.
At this last meeting, Chrystal Wake, who is the relatively new Executive Director of C3, told us all about what C3 does.  I was astonished!  I felt like my fairy godmother had arrived at last!  She spent much of the time asking US what we would like C3 to do for us artists!  We brainstormed and came up with all sorts of ideas.  Some included: arranging studio tours for various organizations to artists' studios in the area; organize lecture series by creative types; sponsor group health insurance for people in the creative arts.  Chrystal is well-connected and positive, a real go-getter.  She took notes the whole time and just said, "What a good idea!  Let me see what I can do about it!"  What a fabulous way to be!  I left the meeting so excited I haven't stopped thinking about it yet!

Two events which they'll be sponsoring in the near future might be interesting to you if you live in the area:.  The first one is happening TOMORROW, so sign up quickly if you're interested!  I'll be there too.  The second one I'll also be at because I'm one of the presenters.  It's called Talk 20 and is several  artists speaking for 20 seconds each on each of 20 slides.  I'm really looking forward to it!  Info about each is below:

January's Breakfast Club - Collaborating on Creativity

Joshua Poteat, a local poet, and Rob Ventura, a local architect, teamed up to create “For Gabriel” a mixed media work of art for 1708 Gallery’s InLight Richmond last year. They were among 26 international artists chosen to create installations for the outdoor art exhibition. This was their first collaboration, and they were selected by juror Adelina Vlas, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as the Best in Show. At this C3 meeting, they will present “For Gabriel,” discuss what it’s like collaborating for the first time, their creative process and share their insights and lessons learned from the experience.

Collaborating on Creativity

Thursday, January 21, 2010
7:30-9:00 am
1708 Gallery
319 W. Broad Street, Richmond, Va.
$15 at the door (cash or check) or payable online when you register

Register Now

1708 Gallery and C3:The Creative Change Center Host second talk20

With the success of the first talk20, 1708 Gallery and C3: the Creative Change Center are hosting the second talk20 event on Wednesday, February 10 at 6 p.m. at 1708 Gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

The event will feature a hybrid of educators and professionals working in some branch of the creative field – such as art, architecture or design. talk20 is based on a series of short presentations of 20 slides each. Each presenter has 20 seconds per slide to express his or her very own artistic voice. The event has the broader goal of encouraging an exchange between those in the creative industry and a wider audience.

Participants for the upcoming event include:

  • artist and founder of the Real Small Art Tiffany Glass Ferreira,
  • innovative and sustainable architecture Tamara Van Meter,
  • painter Susan Singer (best known for her portraiture of naked women),
  • LEGO artist Brian Korte,
  • visionary architect Peter Fraser,
  • artistic director for Amaranth Contemporary Dance Scott Puttman,
  • visual artist artist Rosemary Jesionowski and,
  • photographer Gordon Stettinus.
talk20 is not simply a lecture, but it focuses more along the lines of a gathering, an open forum for the dissemination of ideas in art, architecture and design. talk20 events are held across the nation and globe in such places as Chicago, Santa Cruz, Toronto and Guatemala.

 Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220-4218

Map and Directions

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Anne Truitt

     This last week I've been reading Prospect, The Journal of an Artist, by Anne Truitt, a sculptor from Washington, DC. who died in 1993.  It's the second book I've read by her, the first being Daybook, The Journal of an Artist.  In each of them she writes about her life, both as an artist and a mother.  In Prospect, she also writes about aging and about having to go into retirement and how sidelined she feels by that. 

     Anne Truitt was a sculptor who created large monolithic sculptures out of wood then painted them to a beautiful luster.  I haven't seen any of them in real life, but here are some pictures of them.  If you Google her, you can see more of them.  Most of the major museums in the country have her work in them.

     What I really appreciate her is the way she expresses herself and the things she writes about creativity and being an artist and a mother and a human being.  Here are some quotes from her that really appeal to me:
      "I've struggled all my life to get maximum meaning in the simplest possible form," she said in an interview with The Washington Post in 1987.
     "When I swept wide brushes over large areas, I felt profoundly attuned to both structure and paint, as if I were doing what I had been born to do."   (I can completely relate to "as if I were doing what I had been born to do."  I feel that way when I'm in the studio painting and creating  or talking with people about my latest series and what I'm trying to convey.)

     "Artists have no choice but to express their lives," Mrs. Truitt wrote. "They have only . . . a choice of process. This process does not change the essential content of their work in art, which can only be their life."   The subject I paint changes, but I'm always, at core, trying to discover more about myself and about the human condition, no matter what I'm depicting.  I want to learn more about how the world really looks.  In re-creating it in 2 dimensions, I come to know it more thoroughly and to understand it better.

     From Prospect: "I learned too that if a concept is sufficiently clear and strong, it magnetizes events.  I had not known that intent was in itself so powerful.  I was amazed by how my way was made smooth."  I find this to be true as well.  When I'm clear about a series I'm working on, as I am about Authentic Flesh, events coincide to make things flow - models come to me to let me photograph them; people get in touch through the internet asking to collaborate; I get extra time off work to paint more; I learn of shows my work would show well in, etc., etc.  It's miraculous the way things come together when I'm clear what I'm trying to accomplish.

"I knew that this work looked odd, that I was in an exalted state of mind, possessed, but the authenticity of my impulse was so strong that it carried all before it.  I remember thinking that no matter what the things I was making looked like, I would make them anyway."  There are people in my life who don't understand why I paint naked people - if I paint so well, why can't I do something pretty that people want to see?  My impulse is so strong that it carries all before it!  No matter what the things I am making look like, I will make them anyway!  Thank you, Anne Truitt, for the words!


Mother and Daughter Jocks, Day 1

I had a great time in the studio today beginning my newest painting, Mother and Daughter Jocks.  It's a very fun piece of two women who seem so comfortable in their nude bodies and with each other.  I am delighted by the process of painting it!

Today I painted the background and laid in the shadows.  It's funny how it looks - like I have white cutouts of them in front of the background against which they're throwing a shadow.  I kinda like it at this stage too!  I'm very excited to work on this piece because I like the image so much.  I keep imaging it in the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Roanoke - and explorations on weddings and looking real

This weekend Chris and I went to Roanoke to celebrate his birthday a bit early.  Both of the people we talked to about going said emphatically that we HAD to stay at the Hotel Roanoke.  I'm so glad we did!  It was built at the end of the 19th century by the railroad company that was building the tracks through Roanoke and basically creating the city as it is today.  The hotel is on a hill above the rest of the city, right next to the tracks.  There's a wonderful bridge which crosses a couple of streets and the tracks then ends directly in downtown so you can walk comfortably there.  The hotel is a throw back to older times when living was gracious and full of community.  I've never seen such a well-used lobby!  Saturday evening we spent some time there just to people-watch.  There are two fireplaces around which people were congregated, talking.  There was a large room with many seating areas.  As the evening progressed, people who were done partying at the wedding they'd attended, came and sat there and continued their revelry.  There were game boards for chess, checkers, backgammon and cards.  Chris beat me soundly at Rummy 500 while we watched the activities.  There was a grand piano which was a player piano!  It was so cool to hear it playing - there were several children who stood, transfixed, watching it as if spirits were moving the keys.  Later in the evening there was a wonderful guitarist, Tim Martin I think his name was, playing in the pub which was packed.  There is another grander dining room on the other side of the lobby where one can eat in true southern style, but Chris and I didn't go there.  We chose to eat downtown instead.  It was lovely to see how many people were there, visiting, chatting, having fun together.  I can't think of many community areas like that anymore. 

The breakfast was stupendous!  We got the buffet brunch and had our choice of homemade omelets, french toast, grits, spoonbread, fresh fruit (including pomegranates), toast, pastries, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, juices, etc., etc.  The spoonbread was delicious!  I made the meal my lunch and wasn't hungry again until after dinner time!  Again, the community feeling there was delightful.  The dining room was packed.  The service was excellent.  The food was delicious.  I felt completely taken care of.  It was the perfect place to spend a birthday weekend!

The reason we went to Roanoke in the first place was because of the Rembrandt exhibition.  35 of his etchings are on display at the Taubman Art Museum which is in walking distance of the hotel (right across the pedestrian bridge I mentioned before.)  The museum just opened up in 2008, so it's brand new and quite a spectacular space!  We chose to go Sunday right when it opened at noon.  We were joined by 100's of women and their mothers - there was a bridal show at the same time!  Chris was flabbergasted by all the activity that prompted!  There were vendors of every ilk - department stores, florists, photographers, catereres, wedding consultants, and even someone selling girdles so one could look "just right" for the special event.  I so wanted to talk to the girdle salesperson to see what she would tell me about their product.  It would have gone along so well with the work I'm doing with this blog.  I didn't though because Chris was there and we were ready to leave.  But my goodness, I hate the pressure women feel about having to look just perfect for their wedding!  Perfect nails, perfect hair, perfect figure.

I had a client once who asked me to photograph her.  She was planning to get married and wanted to give her husband nude photographs of herself at this stage in her life.  She used to be heavy (self-reporting) and had been working out for a very long time to get fit and to feel gorgeous.  She came to my house ready for the photos.  She had gotten her hair and nails done, she'd shaved pretty much everything on her body besides the hair on her head, she'd put lotion everywhere.  She'd brought props.  I felt honored to be photographing her, and I also felt somehow sad for her.  She was a very beautiful woman, but the makeup and hairdo were like putting plastic over top of the beauty.  She posed as if she were a centerfold (minus the raunch), in poses meant to be sexy and provocative.  I sensed it wasn't the real her but was rather the person she thought her husband would want her to be.  I wish we could accept ourselves as we are as beautiful.

When Chris and I were planning to get married, I went to the store where I wanted to buy my dress and tried some on.  That was bizarre because the salesperson seemed to not want to sell me anything - she said they didn't have a good selection.  Whatever.  They had what I wanted.  At any rate, I tried the dress on, liked it, was planning to get it.  She looked at it on me and suggested I get it altered a bit because it was a bit too large.  That sounded right.  Then she suggested I get an undergarment to wear with it.  I can't remember what it was called - Hugs?  She said women just must wear them with their wedding gowns because it helps keep the tummies in and the buttocks tucked.  I almost told her to go fuck herself - that my body was just fine as it was, thank you very much, but I realized that wouldn't be very polite, so I managed to simply thank her and tell her firmly that I am who I am and don't feel a need to manufacture a different body for one particular day of my life.  My husband-to-be already knew how I looked and was delighted with it, and I was too.  It really pissed me off!  (Still does, I guess, based on the strength of my feelings right this second!)  Why do women have to feel so inadequate on their wedding day???  As if they weren't already spectacularly beautiful simply glowing from the joy of marrying the man or woman they love with all their hearts and want to spend their lives with?  It seems like the glow from that love should outshine anything any manufacturer could apply over it. 

I chose to wear a dress I felt comfortable in, shoes I could actually walk in, have a haircut I liked that felt authentic, and only wore a little bit of lipstick (Chris hates kissing me when I wear lipstick because it gets all over him(!) and is disoriented the once or twice a year I wear make up because I don't look like me.)  I felt good.  I felt free.  I felt authentic and happy.  And I didn't have to worry about messing something up - like my face if I smiled too broadly!  Our wedding was a spiritual event more than a social one, and our choices were made accordingly.  It made us both so happy.

Anyway...  I think I was talking about the Taubman Museum and the Rembrandt show!  I certainly can get carried away when I believe strongly in something!

The Rembrandt etchings were beautiful.  An etching is made by covering a copper plate with a layer of wax, then drawing through that with a thin stylus.  Then the artist bathes the plate in acid which eats into the copper where the wax has been drawn away.  The etchings are incredibly small and detailed.  The one above, for example is only about 4" big for the whole thing.  His face is about 1.5" big.  I am stunned by the detail he can get into such a small drawing.  The drawings in this exhibit were primarily of beggars.  Beggars were as marginalized in society then as they are now and it was perhaps even stranger to draw them then than now.  Artists made their money doing society portraits, not drawings of beggars.  But the etchings are beautiful, so authentic, so humane.  The faces are old and lined and full of the indignities of life.  They are beautiful.  I guess one reason I'm drawn to them personally is because Rembrandt chose to paint and draw what he saw before him, as opposed to beautifying something because people preferred to see things "just so."  That's what I do in my art - paint what I see before me, exactly as it is (as well as I am able).  I find utmost beauty in what is real and authentic.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Today I'm finally able to take some time to work in the studio again.  The new semester has begun with a bang - that's a good thing!  I have lots of students, plus I'm teaching two evening classes - one in SAT, and one in pastels.  It's fun to be able to use the studio for both purposes.  It's such an awesome space.  I love it that it's so versatile. 

I've begun working on two different canvases.  One of the pictures is of the model for Curves.  It has a lovely dynamism to it that attracts me to it.  When I photographed her, the focus was on her experience of loving her body, feeling empowered and full of positive feelings about her beautiful self.  I think this image evokes that powerfully.  I'm looking forward to painting it.  Its drawn on the canvas already  - I hope to have time to begin painting it soon.

The other canvas is the largest one I've done to date.  It's 6'x4' and is of two full figures with faces.  A couple of months ago I wrote about the experience of photographing a friend of mine with her sister and her sister's daughter.  It was incredibly fun because they were so joyful and fun to be around.  I still smile whenever I think about the session!  I've since learned that some of the laughter may have come from tension - anxiety about posing naked in front of someone they didn't know, not to mention in front of each other! - but I couldn't tell.  They were playful and seemed fully at ease with themselves and each other.  I got some fantastic shots I'm excited about painting.  This first one is of the mother and daughter posing with athletic equipment!  Sounds goofy, right?  The daughter has a raquetball raquet which she is holding like a piece of merchandise on Price is Right, showing it to the audience to entice them to buy it.  Her mom is holding a volleyball and is standing much more solidly on her two feet.  Both are grinning at the camera and are intensely beautiful.  I love the difference in their bodies - it gives a sense of what happens with age - and I love the difference in their stances.  It is such a completely weird picture, I'm very excited about painting it.  I'm working on transferring it to the canvas today.  It's a long process because it's so large.  I have a feeling that this picture will take a long time to paint because there are so many details - 4 hands, 4 feet, 2 wonderfully smiling faces with teeth (very challenging to paint!), not to mention the strings of the racquetball racquet!  What was I thinking??!!  Oh yeah - that this is a fabulous picture and I can't wait to paint it!

So here I go...
Check back for progress!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adam and Eve through the millenia

While I was finding images of the Three Graces, I also looked at images of Adam and Eve.  I found it fascinating to see how the depictions changed over time.  Most of the paintings were from the 1500's, though I was also able to find many from the 21st century as well.  I'm curious how many of those will become as famous as Durer's and Raphael's, etc.  As I was going through the paintings, I paid attention to how the depictions of women's and men's bodies both shifted as well as the relationship between Adam and Eve.  In some of the paintings, they don't seem to have anything to do with each other.  In others, it is all about the couple and their relationship - this seems to be more the case in contemporary paintings than in those of the 16th century.

This first image is from 1100 and was done by Wiligelmo.  I don't know anything at all about the artist.  In this one, it appears that Eve is being tempted, Adam is eating the apple, and they're already using the fig leaf - maybe it was easier to carve one picture with three parts of the story in it than 3 separate ones?! 

1400 or so, Hans Memling, Adam and Eve
Notice that both of them have apples in this depiction.  Eve has a very narrow chest, especially as compared to her hips.

The era I found most of the images from was the 1500's.  Perhaps this is because Europe was moving out of the Dark Ages, into the Renaissance.  The arts were beginning to flourish more.  It was a good subject matter since it was Christian and would please the clerics who had a great deal of power at the time.  And it was an opportunity to paint nudes.  (I'm not an art historian, so I'm just guessing about these possibilities...)

1424-5, Masolino, The Temptation of Adam
Interesting woman's head on the serpent.

1427, Masaccio, The Expulsion from Paradise
An exploration of a different aspect of the story.  The grief is palpable on their faces, and their shame is evident as they attempt to cover themselves.  Interesting that there is a structural gate to the garden, and the angel has a sword - other images don't have such contemporary elements in them.
1450, Castagno, Eve
This is one of my favorite images of Eve.  She looks so strong and bold and clear.  No shame or worry from her!  She seems to have taken on her banishment without a shred of worry!

 1470, Hugo van der Goes, The Fall of Adam
This is one of the most interesting images of the serpent I found.  Remember he wasn't cursed to slide on his belly until AFTER they were all found out, so perhaps this is how he looked before that incident - human head and expressions and all!  I notice that Eve's belly is distended - is she pregnant already before being cursed to have to suffer the pains of childbirth?

1507, Albrecht Durer, Adam and Eve
Durer also did an etching of Adam and Eve.  I think Adam looks very young in this picture.  They don't look too pained by their punishment.  I get a sense of youth and almost frivolity from it.  Light.  Breezy.  Pretty people.

1500, Albrecht Durer, Adam and Eve
This is his etching of the same subject matter.  Adam and Eve look so different in this, it's hard to reconcile that it's by the same artist.  (Maybe I have the one above wrong.)  Adam's musculature is quite defined.  Eve is not one of today's super-skinny models.

1508-12, Michelangelo, The Fall of Man and the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
From comparing these different paintings, I can see why Michaelangelo is considered one of the best painters ever.  His colors are beautiufl.  His forms are gorgeously painted.  The emotions he evokes are clear and real looking.  The gestures of the models are beautiful.  The bodies are gorgeously muscular.  I've heard that Michaelangelo, who was gay, used only male models, so his women tended to look like men as well.  I can see that on Eve on the left.  Her back muscles look very masculine to me, and her breasts look almost more like pecs than breasts.  The sepent is more of a human being than snake - and much more appealing than the other human-faced one above!

1509-11, Raphael, Adam and Eve (ceiling panel)
This was being done at the same time as Michaelangelo was painting the Sistene Chapel (where the previous picture can be found).  The two artists were rivals, competing for commissions from the pope and other wealthy patrons.
These figures have quite a different feel than the previous ones.  The musculature is very different.  Eve looks more like a woman than a body builder.  The serpent is again human-like.

1517 Hans Holbein, Adam and Eve
I love Adam in this one!  He could be straight out of a 70's druggie film.  His attitude is so casual about the whole thing.  Fascinating!

1525, Jan Gossaert, Adam and Eve in Paradise
There's a lot of motion in this painting.  Adam looks like he's leading her someplace.

Both of these are by Lucas Cranach, the top one from 1528, the bottom from 1533.  It looks like he used the same models for both, and the woman is in almost exactly the same position.  The man's arms are different, and the colors are quite different (though I don't know how much of that is due to the color reproduction.)  I wonder why he did two which were so similar?  Commissions?

1535, Albrecht Altdorfer, The Fall of Man
This is the same title as Michaelangelo's.  This one is so much cruder! 

1550, Titian, Adam and Eve
This one has a more contemporary feel to me - maybe it's the colors.  I can't tell if he's trying to push her away from taking the apple from the cherub-like serpent, or if he's touching her breast.  Again, they're already covered by foilage even though they apparently haven't eaten the apple yet.

1598, Rubens, Adam and Eve
I find these figures to be exquisitely painted.  Rubens is the one people are talking about when they say a woman's figure is "Rubenesque."  It usually means she has hips and breasts and looks like a normal woman.  Those were the days when women were valued for having some meat on their bones!  I don't find this woman to be overly plump at all - no more so than any of the other Eves particularly.

When I put the pictures in chronological order, I was fascinated to find that the three pictures I could find from the 17th century were all pastoral scenes, landscapes almost.  In two of them, it's difficult to find them even!  Such a contrast to the 16th century pictures above where the figures dominate completely.  I wonder what happened to cause that shift?

1615, Jan Bruegel the Elder, Adam and Eve in the Garden

 1660-4, Nicolas Poussin, The Spring. Adam and Eve in Paradise

1623, Domenichino, Adam and Eve
It looks to me like Adam is casting some blame here!  And God looks pretty darned angry!  Those little angels in the middle look like the ones that have become famous recently as stickers, etc.  Note the modern-looking animals.

1850,Adam and Eve Expelled, Paul Gustave Dore
One of the only 19th century depictions of Adam and Eve I found.  A very Romantic image full of hellfire nad damnation.  Note that Adam and Eve have on a lot of clothing - they're not exactly nude here.  Perhaps this had to do with the rising Victorian sensibility?

1885-96, Victor Vasnetsov, The Bliss of Paradise
Again, no nudity to speak of.  A more Art Nouveau rendering, very decorative.  Focused on the time before they ate the apple.  A completely different color pallette than in the ones from the 16th century.

1909, Suzanne Valadon, Adam and Eve
When I first saw this, I thought it was by Paul Gauguin, but I was mistaken.  It's by Suzanne Valadon, the first woman whose work is represented here.  This couple is painted in a much flatter, less representational style.  His genitals are covered.  Hers aren't.  It looks like he's trying to keep her from taking the apple, but he isn't even looking in that direction.  She looks quite independent and carefree.  I get more the sense of two individuals in this picture than in some of the others.  Even though they're touching, they don't seem very connected.  The woman's shape seems more modern.

 1917-18, Gustav Klimt,  Adam and Eve
Klimt, an extremely decorative Jugendstil artist from Austria, created a whole different story about Adam and Eve.  There's no apple.  No temptation.  No shame.  No banishment. This one is about the relationship between the two who are clearly lovers.  I can imagine that this caused some scandal for churchgoers when he put it on display.

 1932, Adam and Eve, Tamara de Lempicka, 1932
Another painting by a woman.  Although labeled Adam and Eve, it also doesn't seem to have too much to do with the Garden and banishment and shame.  She is holding an apple, so I guess that's the reference there.  The setting is an urban city - not exactly the Garden of Eden.  Perhaps this is what has come from the banishment.  Looks like they're enjoying themselves. 

1998, Botero, 1483 colon Adam and Eve 
Finally a couple that's a different size!  Interesting depiction in that it's from the rear rather than from the front, and look who's reaching for the apple this time!

2002, Susan Singer, Adam and Eve Revisited.
This is a collage I made when I was working on my 12 Naked Men series.  I found the picture of the snake in National Geographic and combined it with a photo I took of one of my friends and a copy of a portrait I did of myself. 

2006, Adam and Eve, Scott Brooks 
I found this picture on the internet, but I don't know anything about this artist.  I love it that the couple is biracial, and I lvoe his cocky stanch (pardon the pun!) and her worried look.  He is standing there, not hiding a thing, while she looks completely uptight.  The apple hasn't been touched yet, but the serpent is waiting to do this thing.  It makes for an interesting story...

2007, Adam and Eve in the Creation Museum, Monica Lam 
This is a sculpture from the Creation Museum where people can go view dioramas of scenes from the Bible and dinosaurs roaming the earth with humans.  It's interesting to me that there is no nudity there - genitals are covered by lily pads and water, breasts by hair.  She seems to be showing young women how to just say no - shyly but clearly.  That's pretty tricky - combining teaching abstinence with Adam and Eve!

2007,Inigo Jose Sinson, Adam and Eve
I'm not sure exactly what the message is supposed to be here, but I found the image interesting, so I thought I'd include it.

I don't know who the artist is for this painting unfortunately.  Their bodies seem to have reached the skinny model stage, both the man and woman.

Again, I don't know who the artist is for this.  It looks like one of the images from the 15th century, but notice those are pot leaves, not fig leaves covering them, and I do believe they're smoking joints! 

2009, Adam and Eve Adult Costume, celebrate express
And just in case you've been so inspired by this series of pictures that you want to dress like Adam and Eve for your next costume party, here's some inspiration for you!

So.......  as you can see, there have been many, many depictions of Adam and Eve over the centuries, and artists today are continuing to explore the topic.  I found it interesting to look at the way artists showed the female and male bodies - some seemed to be idealized, like Michaelangelo's.  Others weren't.  It seems like most were.  Some were extremely emotional renderings.  In others, the pair stood by with nary an expression on their faces.  After the 16th century, the way of painting the scene changed dramatically, and in the 17th century, it was difficult to even find the couple in the landscape!  In the 20th and 21st centuries, it seems as if the depictions of Adam and Eve have become more about the sensual relationship between the two, or the story has been parodied to make a different point.

I find it fascinating to discover the way the same story has been handled down through the centuries as tastes and values and morals have changed.  Some other time, I plan to trace the way Venus has been pictured.  Until then, have a great day!