Country House

Country House
"Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Impressive Impressionist exhibit comes to town

Been a while... Always seem to be excusing myself for not adding to this blog but I'm of the belief that it has to be something worth discussing. An opportunity to see a touring exhibition of the Impressionists in one's home town definitely falls into that category.

The tour, "Once Upon a Time...Impressionism" is currently on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the one and only Canadian stop of the tour, which will travel from Europe to Asia during the expansion work at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Seventy-four paintings by Bonnard, Corot, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Millet, Monet, Morisot, Pissaro, Sisley and Tourlouse-Lautrec dotted the walls of the museum, which was full of art-lovers taking advantage of seeing the masters, as I was.

According to the information blurb,  the collection is "the work of Robert Sterling Clark (1877-1956), heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, who, for over half a century, quietly built up one of the finest art collections in the United States. Married to a French actress, Clark lived for many years in Paris, enthusiastically collecting art. A discriminating art lover and skilled negotiator, as independent in his lifestyle as in his tastes, this thoughtful and reticent man chose the artworks himself, consulting only with his knowledgeable wife, Francine. His collection included European and American paintings, Old Master prints and drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics.

In 1955, the Clarks opened the institute that bears their names in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in the heart of New England. It is now famous around the world for the outstanding quality of its art collection, which spans from European Old Masters to nineteenth-century art, decorative arts and remarkable holdings of works on paper, and one of America’s largest art history libraries."
The paintings included Monet's landscapes, from "The Cliffs at Etretat" to the Dutch tulip fields and Spring in Giverny...among others. As an artist who is drawn to landscapes, Monet is  a favorite. Still haven't made it to Giverny - yet - but hoping to one day. Walking from painting-to-painting, I couldn't help but smile and shake my head in admiration along with frequent gasps at the artistry in front of my eyes.
If you happen to be in the Montreal area on business or pleasure, you can catch the tour until January 20, 2013. Definitely worth a look.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Art exhibits and lost opportunities

Before starting to work on some of my paintings today, want to share some thoughts on an art exhibit.

A friend and member of our informal weekly art get-togethers, had the opportunity to place her work on display at a local library. It was a retrospective of her acrylic and water-color canvases, most of which are of the large sized variety. The submission process wasn't juried and open to all artists living in our community.

The exhibition space was ideal with a perfect balance of space, over-head lighting and the subdued atmosphere of a library setting allowing visitors to examine the pieces in solitude and contemplation.

As an artist for many years, my friend has accumulated a vast amount of canvases covering a wide variety of subjects. Care was taken in selecting the paintings and they were grouped according to subjects. The library donated the space while the artist is in charge of all aspects of their own exhibition. As an artist, couldn't help but notice there were some things that were omitted -  important inclusions that would have given the exhibit a professional look.

Titles of the paintings were written crudely with a marker pen on plain, white pieces of paper accompanied by the price of the painting. Given the plethora of stationery and computer programs available on the various internet sites, a better alternative would have been to print up professional information cards. An artists statement whereby the viewer/visitor is supplied with the artist's vision of her/his work was also absent. No press releases were sent out to local newspapers to alert readers to the existance of the exhibition and the duration of the show. Given the run of the solo exhibit, which will run for an entire month, it is the best kept secret. There was no background information on the artist. In my eyes as artist and visitor, these are important omissions.

My point in sharing these observations is that when fate smiles kindly on artists and an opportunity to exhibit one's artistic output presents itself, care should be taken to cover all the bases so to speak, to ensure that paintings are shared with as many people as possible. Small omissions can result in a lost opportunity to familiarize the public with the work of a new artist and the loss of credibility.

Meanwhile, I'm off to work on my paintings. Will be providing photos of newest creations.

Came accross an interesting piece on the site, focusing on "How to Interact and Network With People at Open Studios and Gallery Openings." The article offers hints on the do's and don't's of how to act at openings, at open studios, or anywhere else where their art is for sale. Definitely read-worthy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The art show - the artists strutt their stuff

At long last the photos of the art exhibition/show/display are now ready for their debut. As mentioned in the previous blog, the weather conditions were ideal with a bright sun and not a cloud in the sky. Well...maybe a cloud if one can call a poor turnout of people/art lovers. Actually, it's quite surprising given the publicity in the form of flyers distributed in our geographical location and blurbs in the coming events section of the local newspaper. In spite of it all, there definitely could have/should have been more people. This also leads one (me) to question as to whether people are interested in painting and art in general. It also could be timing in that summer is a time for being outdoors (we were waiting, people!) and involved in their own pursuits.I prefer to believe the latter.

In any case, onward and forward to next year's show, if we decide it's a go. One of the ideas brought forth is to open the show to all the local condo artists, and hold it in the park accross the street. It certainly lends itself to an art show.

Meanwhile, enjoy some of the photos. The geographical location is perfect.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The art show that really wasn't

This is becoming an all too familiar whine. Once again as was the case last year, the latest art show did not reach expectations. This time, though, there were no impediments to its success unless a beautiful, sunny, hot, gorgeous summer day could be considered an impediment.

The art show last year, which was an outdoor show, was primarily in the hands of other people and there were a number of factors that contributed to its failure. First and probably the primary reason was the geographical location of the show in that it was located in a suburban community on an unknown, out-of-the-way street, along with the second factor being the total lack of publicty. Rather than dwell on the past, let's hypothesize the reasons for this year's blechy turnout (the word "blechy" says so much).

Initially, the weather forecast called for a rainy day and in retrospect, perhaps it would have been better if this had been the case ("oh Eleanor - you're so negative!"). In the way of numbers, this was the third outdoor condo art show and we viewed the sudden change of weather conditions as an omen that the gods were smiling down on us. In order to maximize the turnout, flyers were sent out to all the condo buildings in the area in addition to press releases in the local newspaper. Lack of publicity obviously was not a reason this time. Add to that a hot sunny day, the only explanation, and one (me) loathes to even think it, is a general lack of interest. I mean, art is not everybody's cup of tea so to speak. The way that I view it is that one is interested in art/art show if a) you're related or a good friend of an artist whose work is on display or b) you're looking for something to hang on your walls. Right or wrong?

For the record, I sold one of my minis, a beautiful blue butterfly, who went home with a lovely friend. So now I'm at the point where I'm taking the summer off to think and give painting a rest. I am, however, contemplating entering my paintings in a group show in an art gallery in the fall. Meanwhile, my focus for the summer is completing a short play in the hope of submitting it in a competition that requires all my attention, so the brushes, canvases are resting in my supply cupboard. I've always professed and told anyone who listens that when it comes to my painting and writing, they are both delicious obsessions to which I can't live without.

If there's anything to be gleaned from this experience, it's no more outdoor art shows. It's a good as excuse as any.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Five days ago, the weather forecast called for a 70% chance of rain on Saturday, the day that the art show was taking place. Upon hearing and reading this, I ranted and raved around the house mumbling (actually considerably louder than mumbling), "typical - so typical of our luck!" This is the polite translation. Being that this is an outdoor show, weather plays an if not "the" most important part. A flurry (I like that word!) of e-mail communication followed between the organizers as to contingency plans for Sunday, which at that point was merely a little more promising.

"Think positive!" I told myself while monitoring the weather. For the next few days, my motto was "think positive - it won't rain. Think positive - it will not rain..."

Sometimes the gods do hear our plea. By the end of the week on Friday, the weather had made a 360 degree change and today the sun is shining bright and the temperature will be in the mid '70's. My paintings have been priced (she wrote optimistically) and my biggest dilemma today is what to wear. Should it be the short-sleeved blouse or the long sleeved jersey... These are important issues!

The by-word today is placement. As is the case and importance with real estate, location...location...location. The focus is to have the best vantage point where visitors will see us and our masterpieces. We live in hope.

Photos to follow - hopefully happy faces.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A taste of my paintings for the show

As mentioned in the previous blog, I'm preparing for the outdoor condo art exhibition coming up on Saturday, June 9 - weather permitting - or if it rains, which it did last year, Sunday, June 10.

Right now I'm finishing up a canvas, which I'm calling, "Pond Life" focusing on green water found in ponds, with reeds jutting out. Really like it. Why? I don't know but there are some paintings that just make me happy and this is one of them. Hopefully, I won't screw things up as I tend to do placing some last strokes. I have to control this urge to fix what ain't broken! I'm also toying with working on two other canvases, one considerably larger than I usually do and am known to mess up, and the other a smaller, safe canvas. I'll see.

Meanwhile, here are some canvases that will be on display.

Will be adding more in the coming days. So whad'ya think?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yearly art exhibition coming up in two weeks

It's been a while since I've updated this blog but it's time to share some exciting - at least for me - news.

As in past years, the annual condo art and artisan show and sale is coming up in two weeks. The call went out two weeks ago to artists and artisans living in our twin condo buildings, who are interested in displaying their artistic output. Last year was a bust given the cool temps and rain, which ended the show after two hours. Hopefully, this year we will have at least sunny weather since the show is outdoors in a beautiful setting near a river.

I'll be showing seven or eight paintings that were done over the year. The subjects as usual, are diverse ranging from a scene focusing on a mesa, some landscapes of which I'm particularly proud since I used palette knives, a volcano oozing lava (using palette knives) and some abstracts. I'm enjoying abstracts because they free your creativity and spirit but I still find myself drawn to landscapes.

Publicity is essential in attracting outsiders to the exhibit and we're distributing flyers to condos in the area. It goes without saying (or writing) that friends, neighbors, former neighbors, relations...anybody whose phone number I've held on to, will be notified. Although it's a bonus to be able to sell a canvas or two, inter-acting with people who drop by is a reward in itself.

Will be posting photos of the show and updating when there is news. Here are some photos of the show from a few years ago.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Opportunity to display my art

I'm always looking for a chance to display my artistic output. Even if nothing sells, at the very minimum, people not familiar with my paintings will see and hopefully, remember something that struck their fancy.

Given the occasion - a few hours at the end of a seniors club meeting this coming Thursday afternoon - my expectations aren't high. It's for this reason that I'm displaying my "minis" 7"X10" canvases that are really good. In addition, I'll bring along some of the newer larger pieces.

Also thinking about and investigating summer art displays, locally. Hope springs eternal... Will report back on the quickie art display.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Of palette knives and happy results

Palette knives are a challenge but when things come together - magic!

It's not that I'm not "into" using brushes anymore but for me, palette knives offer texture and depth to a painting. Perhaps this new enchantment is a result of having figured out how to use an instrument that is a challenge to many (including me) and being satisfied with the end result. Early trial and error resulted in many a cut canvas but the challenge to master or a least produce something substantial helped me persevere. I'm still using brushes to create fine or small images like flowers or leaves or I'll combine brush strokes and palette knives for large expanses such as background.

This summer I'm hoping and planning to display my latest additions in our annual condo art exhibition. It's truly amazing the number of artists living in the two condo buildings involved in the display. I mean, what are the odds? The exhibition, which is held in an outside setting near the river, lends itself to art - when the weather is favorable. Last year and the year before, it was cool and rainy. Still, given that this winter was warmer than average, hope springs eternal.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Back to the basics of art

For the first time, I'm taking an art course to see what I've missed - if anything - and to learn technique. Actually, painting entered my life in a big way four years ago, following a career as a columnist and freelance writer for various newspapers, when my son gave me some paint tubes and two brushes.

"Here - paint," he told me and I haven't look back since. Think I already shared this but it bears repeating because my introduction to my painting muse has changed my life immensly.

Whatever I've learned so far has been from experience, which in my opinion is a great teacher. My first painting, a still life, is hanging in my bedroom. Although it was very basic, the thrill of actually seeing an image that I created on a canvas is something that never ceases to amaze me. There has always been a feeling that something is missing within my art sphere. For example, my psychological dilemma when faced with a large canvas irks me, in addition to some other hang-ups. It's for this reason that painting course seems like a good idea. Let me share, for the record, that I've formed some very strong feelings when it comes to personal style if not technique.

To date and after one lesson, I've picked up a few simple and basic things that will definitely help me. Not too crazy over the instructor since she is very inflexible and regimented but I'll give it a chance. Maybe. Depending on her attitude and whether we can find a common ground.

Meanwhile, I'm painting on my own and feel that I'm growing as an artist. In the end, that's what's important. Meanwhile, I'll be posting/sharing my new paintings in a few weeks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The artists show their work

Nothing better than visiting an art gallery to view the art work of a fellow artist. It's important to lend support by attending opening exhibitions. Last night we dropped by the Wentworth Gallery in the Boca Raton Town Centre Mall to see the opening of artist, Alexandra Nichita, who is reputed to be the new Pablo Picasso in style and means of expression. The artist was there in person to discuss her work and many people took advantage of the opportunity to find out more about this exciting creator.

As an artist, my focus was on her design and brush strokes and of course, the finished product. What colors does she prefer? How do the lines define the overall picture? Cubism isn't "my thing" but her work is definitely exciting.

Samples of her work:

Meanwhile, in another gallery in the same mall, took advantage to take in the creative output of artist, Sveta Esser. Absolutely love her work! She combines landscape (my favorite subject of choice) with texture achieved through the use of palette knives. In her use of colors and technique, she manages to achieve landscape settings that are light and airy. I've started using palette knives seeing what can be achieved inspires me to continue experimenting.

This is why her art reaches me:

Recently finished a black and white abstract painting, which I call, "Broken Window - Broken Dreams." The focus is a window frame with three thick lines of varying darkness depicting how life starts out as a series of hopes and dreams that are not always realized. Will share photos of my new paintings in a couple of months, when this snowbird returns home.

Meanwhile, I'm going to buy some new paints and perhaps - not sure yet - try the water based oils. Having never used oils, I'm a bit apprehensive. Still the idea excites me...

 Isn't this the truth: "
"An artist is always alone - if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness." (Henry Miller)