Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stress Relief

Man Like a House Afire
 Life recently interrupted preparations for my October art exhibit when my car broke down. A week of riding the bus to and from my job took its toll on my time, as well as my stamina, as it actually vastly increased the amount of walking involved. But, in addition to getting an overdose of exercise, I got a lot of reading done, which is always happy-making. I have just about finished Nicholas Haslam's hugely enjoyable memoir, Redeeming Features. Alas, I got very little artwork done, however.

Last Saturday, with invaluable help from my son Joe, and my generous neighbor who loaned me her car for the day, I was able to find an affordable, very low mileage used car! This week I’m back to driving and back in the studio, albeit a bit behind schedule. The above painting, which dates to 1990, might finally get a viewing if I run out of time to make newer work. It is, actually, the only other acrylic painting I'd ever done until starting to work on the Backstage Bar show.

On a couple occasions during the carless week, I relieved stress by spending some time pottering in the garden. Last year, I had started dozens of perennial seedlings, many of which actually survived the winter! Here are the ones already in bloom:

Dianthus barbatus in front of d. wee willie

Dianthus wee willie and d. arctic fire

Dianthus double gaiety
Malva sylvestris zebrina

Feverfew in copious bloom

Silene armeria and veronica spicata

My neighbor has a thriving batch of Seven Sisters roses, which have happily grown right over the fence and are now in the process of trying to take over my back yard.

Seven Sisters climbing over cotoneaster and into the lilac
This photo also shows the recently deceased sweet autumn clematis, not yet removed from the side porch roof. Apparently the thick base of the vine either rotted or was gnawed through. Several weeks ago my cat Dundee brought a chipmunk to the back door, bloodied but not dead, which sprang off as soon as possible. Perhaps the killed vine was it's revenge?  

Here is Miranda, who usually will not let herself be photographed. She  is admiring the beautiful wild ferns growing in the shade of the steps to the upper garden.

My next post, I PROMISE, will have new artwork!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How Did The Cat Get In There?

Here is another painting for the show in October, completed at the end of May. It does not have a title as yet, although I guess the title of this post could work as well as anything else. (I apologize for the blurriness of the photo, it was taken, without benefit of a tripod, with my very basic digital camera.) It is based on a photo of a charming old fresco in an Italian house, from the book Italian Style by Jane Gordon-Clark, with photos by Simon Upton (the original illustration appears in the page previews in the link.)

I attempted to give the scene a little twist with the addition of a cat lurking below the fruit tree, watching the birds. However, after adding him, I realized that he kind of throws the whole thing off, since the painting follows the rather primitive style of the original fresco, but the cat is done more realistically. But I like his furry face so much, I couldn’t bring myself to redo him in a more “cartoony” style to match the birds. So I have decided that the discrepancy is part of the humor of the painting. How did a “real” cat get into a fresco? Viewers will either get it, or conclude that I can paint cats, but not birds.

I love to look at ancient art for inspiration, and of course, for sheer delight. The “primitive” look is deceptively difficult to render, even without requiring perspective and chiaroscuro. The original artists were still the highly skilled painters of their time, and their designs are often as sophisticated and complex as anything out there today.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Opportunities = New Blog Posts!

Hearts Afire (photographed in my bathroom!)
  I started Collagitation blog in 2010, to observe my 60th birthday year with a collage-a-day project. Although I only made it through about 8 months before exhaustion did me in, I produced what was, for me, an astounding number of artworks. All of which are here on the blog. My posting has fallen way off since then, as has my productivity, except for the book illustrations in 2012 (see post from October, 2012.)

Happily, honest effort is never wasted, and in 2011, my collages got me juried into the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. I posted some of them on my member page on the AAP website, where they were seen by the co-manager of the Backstage Bar at Theater Square. In April she emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in exhibiting my work there in October 2013. YES!!

Backstage Bar is petite establishment at the back of the Cabaret Theater in Pittsburgh’s “cultural district.” It also opens onto Katz Plaza, the heart of the district (and which, by the way, has granite eyeball seats designed by the late Louise Bourgois, visible in the link.) Backstage Bar caters especially to before- and/or after-performance patrons, not only from the Cabaret Theater itself, but also the Pittsburgh Symphony, Pittsburgh Opera and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in season, the Civic Light Opera during the summer, as well as a variety of musical and dramatic performances taking place in the many venues within walking distance. (You can check all these out using the sidebar links from either of the sites above.) In other words, it is a fun venue with a cultural twist, situated in a fun part of town, a wonderful spot to enjoy a drink or meal with friends, as I did recently, at the al fresco tables on the plaza. And perfect for getting the work of local artists, which they consistently display, before the eyes of people who appreciate art in many forms. What an opportunity!

The catch is that my detailed collages, designed on a small scale so I could work them up as quickly as possible, and framed behind glass, are not the ideal works to display on a 30-foot long wall above a row of bistro tables. Thus, I was asked to exhibit larger work, which I assured them would be no problem! I estimate I will need a minimum of 12-15 pieces, ranging in size from 12 x 16 to 24 x 36 inches, to do justice to the space. I have all the way to October, so NO WORRIES, right??? I plan on doing mostly paintings, some of them based on my collage designs, although I may do a few large collages as well. Time to dust off those tubes of acrylics...

I started in April, 6 months out, on a schedule of at least 2 paintings a month, to reach 12 pieces by the end of September. Presently, I am (sort of) one painting behind. However, the more I paint, the faster and (I hope) better I am getting, and I have some tricks up my sleeve for when I get really desperate. It took me a few weeks to get over that feeling of panic every time I started to work, not having painted on any large scale in decades. Now, I am enjoying the heck out of it and can’t wait to get to work each evening when I get home from my day job! Hearts Afire, above, is the first acrylic painting to be completed (12 x 16"). It is based on an ATC I made years ago.

So, Dear Reader, you are welcome to follow along on my latest adventure, Will She Finish Enough Paintings for the Show or Will She Have to Leave Town in Disgrace Come October?!?


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