Saturday, January 31, 2009
I don't usually like to paint people- I'm much more interested in capturing the colors of landscapes, or in creating intimate drawings of shells and sticks and other little nature-y things. But I went through a short phase where I tried a few portraits; most were fairly unsuccessful, in part because I was trying to paint people I knew and loved. I think that when we know people really well we add things to their characters that isn't always visible. This is why someone who might have seemed plain when we first meet them becomes beautiful as we learn what's on the inside as well as the outside. The whole weight of our history with the individual bears down on how we perceive them, and when it comes to depicting them in simple shadow and light I find I never can capture the essence of the person. I'm off just enough that one small change to a feature, or wrong expression, renders the whole portrait dead and lifeless. So I tried to paint this old Yankee from a photo...I was able to discover his personality in the same way I discover that of a character in one of my fiction pieces-gradually and with no preconceived notions.
Sadly, I have to keep him in a box in the corner, because I don't like the way he looks at me... kind of creeps me out.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Not this time though. I've had good intentions to start working on some paintings, but each time Friday rolled around there were unexpected interruptions- almost in-laws dropping by unexpectedly, power failures, mandatory family gatherings--all things that I COULD have said, "Nope, get out, can't do it," but not without serious social repercussions. Sigh. I chose to go with the flow this time, rather than make unnecessary waves.
And so, Unplugged Art Night is still on the plans, but as yet remains an unrealized dream...
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This is a page from cartoonist Lynda Barry's new book What It Is. I fell in love with the collages in this book, each of which is focused around an idea for a writing exercise. The book itself is equal parts graphic novel, memoir and writing workbook; I love the way it approaches writing in a non-linear and creative manner.
I used one of her exercises in a creative writing class the other day, and asked the kids to journal on her page "what and where is your imagination?" The page itself is full of images, words and sub-thoughts, all colorfully crashing into each other. At first, it seemed to overwhelm some of the students, most of whom were used to more direct prompts-some needed a little guidance to figure out what they were "supposed" to write about. But I think her books include the kind of exercises where you look at her images and each time find something new to think about. You can repeat her prompt, and find yourself answering a different question.
I'm trying to push the edges of what these kids are used to encountering in a creative writing class, and I like using her book as a jumping off point. Like all things, creativity takes practice, and I think the kids will get there...
More info on Lynda Barry can be found here.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Splice by Adelaide Tyrol
Vermont painter Adelaide Tyrol stuns me with the way she uses vibrant colors to paint intimate portraits of birds, insects and plants. There is a spark of life to her work that makes me think of Chris Augusta's pastels, something that just lights up within the piece and stops me cold- that makes me expect to see the creatures lift up out of their technicolor universes and burst up into the sky. Tyrol deviates from the technical perfections of scientific illustration and instead captures the soul of the organism in such a way that it's individual personality and expression pour off the page. I love it.
More of her work can be found here: http://adelaidetyrol.com/recentindex.html
Friday, January 16, 2009
So here is our experiment for 2009:
PK and I are hoping to unplug ourselves from our various technology for one night a week, during which we'll focus on our art projects. No reading, no internet, no T.V., just art projects. It's not an original idea; many other folks are doing unplugged nights, and I know that we'll have to work around weeks when we are travelling, and other intrusions, but for the immediate future, Friday night is Unplugged Art Night around here. Hopefully we'll eventually open the house back up to our old group from time to time, but for now, it's just the two of us and a palette of paint. Updates to follow...
This past weekend PK and I went on a road trip to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom with a bunch of friends. It was a fantastic weekend of great skiing, food, conversation and general laughter and fun. I skied across old maple sugar plantations, over hills filled with mysterious spruce, and through fields that were once orchards, now scattered with twisted, decaying fruit trees. The snow fell all weekend, in fine waves of powder that squeaked beneath our feet.
Most of the time it was well below zero and too cold to take the camera out into the woods, but I managed to get this photo on our last day, a few minutes before we climbed back in the car for the long drive back to real-life obligations.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The wind is howling outside the house right now, and a deep cold has settled in on our small town. Late last night I took the dog out, and stood there staring up into the dark, cold sky, until my eyes watered from the chill. I've been thinking a lot about cycles lately, and the ways in which we connect to the earth around us--mythic thoughts, about the patterns that we humans repeat regardless of circumstances. I originally stumbled across Jeanie Tomanek's work on a mythic arts website, and these paintings so wonderfully convey that sense of timelessness. I love her luminous figures that move in and out of darkness, and the mythic images that appear and re-appear in her works. I'm also intrigued by her process, in which she uses mixed media to create layers that she then scratches through for different effects. Her website has a great selection of pieces, and she definitely goes on the list of people I would buy art from if I had any money.
You can see more of her work here: http://www.jeanietomanek.com/gallery.htm
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
- Emily Bronte, Spellbound
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I've been on break from school the last few weeks, and have been using my free time to start a lot of different projects, but not to actually finish them. One of these over-optimistic projects is to dig through all the piles of stuff in my study and try to beat it into some sort of order before the chaos of the new semester begins. I keep coming across old pieces of art- paintings, photos, poems and the like, and am going to post a few while I work on that whole "finished product" thing. Since yet more snow is falling, here is a little memory of summer. I photographed these barnacles at sunset while PK and I were paddling on the coast of Maine.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
The moments I love the most in gardening happen early in the year, when tiny plants push up through the soil, offering the promise of delicious meals with friends and family. I love to work this early garden - before the bugs come crawling, before mildew and drought ravage the leaves, before weeds and slugs do their worst. This is the garden of hope, and the dirt beneath my fingernails smells sweet.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I was playing around on the web and looking for some inspiration, when I stumbled across these surreal works by Stu Jenks, a musician and photographer working out in Tucson, Arizona. His photos are vivid dreamscapes that practically demand a tribal drum track accompaniment. As someone who is intensely interested in the artistic process of others, I especially like his website, where he often pairs his images with stories behind how they came to be. Check them out at http://www.stujenks.com, and make sure to look for the links to his “Circle Stories.”
Owl's Head, by Stu Jenks
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Monday, January 5, 2009
And then I moved.
While I love the place where I am living now, and wouldn’t trade being with PK in our little nest for anything, it’s like I fell asleep on the couch just before the really funny thing happened at the party that everyone will be talking about for months. Typical.
There’s no end to this little tale, just the hope that my little old neighborhood is rolling along and building up artistic steam. Maybe I’ll stop by for a cup of coffee sometime soon and see how things are coming along.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Evening-the only sounds the heavy breath of the dog and the swish-swish of skis on days-old snow, the occasional call of a chickadee about to settle in for the night. The edge of a field, studded with gnarled, arthritic fruit trees, picked clean of fruit by winds and wild. A fattening moon, climbing up from behind the treeline, escaping from the twisted cage of branches to shine in the clear night sky, if only for a few hours, before sinking once more, below the trees, below the bay, below the corners of the earth, to sleep again .