Support 2021 Nanesemond-Suffolk Academy Art Show & Sale

I’m excited to be again be part of this broad artistic show and sale to support the Nanesemond-Suffolk Academy. To keep everyone safe during this time of COVID-19, the sale will be entirely virtual (except when you pick up your painting, of course, that is live).

This year I have two paintings available for purchase. Please click on the links in the painting titles to purchase from the Art Show and support NSA.

I Still Have My Phone

Nanesemond-Suffolk Academy Art Show I have My Phone have My Phone 30x24

Size: 30×34
Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas

Riding the Waves

Size: 24×30
Acrylic on Wood
Includes an elegant gold frame

A Long Walk with a Friend

A long walk - featuring Riding the Waves

Sometimes it takes a long walk with a friend on a cold, post-Christmas Day to talk out your thoughts and perhaps come to some conclusions about where you are going or where you might want to stop going.

I was trying to figure out why I have been at a bit of an impasse in terms of my art. What I mean is that for years I have gone from one subject or approach to the next as a grand evolution.

I did illustrations.
I did commercial work.
I did watercolors which were mostly landscapes and a few people.
I did my series on music, dance, coffee coffee shops on and on.
And I loved it.

But for the past few years I can’t really say that I have latched onto anything new or experimental or even a brand new subject matter. I would love to get political, but I cannot allow myself to do that. So anyway here I am walking on the Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg trying to analyze how I can continue to paint without being redundant.

I am working. I have some commissions. I find that I resort to the old way of doing things because I know that is why I have been hired in the first place. That is the unsatisfying part of it is for me or I think I would be able to express myself better. Now I am thinking it is not that I dislike the subjects I have painted, but it is that I believe I have to change my approach to those subjects.

I know I would love to be more abstract, more enthusiastic in my brush work. Painting with more instinct than deliberation. But for some reason I have not allowed myself to do that.

Here we are in hopefully the final few months of our self-imposed quarantines and avoiding the people and the groups we have formally enjoyed. Maybe now is the time to do exactly that. To finish up with our obligation. The question is how do I really do it.

The dancers and dancing might be a way to start. The unfortunate thing about them is that especially in formal dance, there are certain prescribed postures and forms. When a couple is doing a waltz, there are certain prescribed steps.

Maybe I need to stop thinking about rules; both in the subject matter and my approach to painting Maybe the mere act of losing edges, changing color away from reality. I don’t know.

If I do that who knows what kind of success I might have. And that is what I tell people; to keep pushing their envelopes.

Easy to say, hard to do.

The easy part is to wake up, do morning rituals, have coffee, check texts and emails. What is hard is to walk into the studio and to start to work.

How I Sabotage Myself

The Coffee Was Suspect

Myself Sabotage - My second cup of coffee

Recently I had a cup of coffee at home that wasn’t the best.

I thought as I was driving to Manteo, NC that I would stop and pick up a better cup of coffee. I went through a drive-through, ordered, and because I was giving myself a break from being health-conscious, ordered an additional bagel with cream cheese.

I went to eat my breakfast in their parking area and found that they had added too much sugar to my coffee. It was too sweet and I couldn’t drink it. Because I felt it was probably my own fault for not enunciating properly into the voicebox, I went through again and ordered another coffee.

I explained my being dumb about my first coffee order and the young woman at the drive-through window gave me a delicious doughnut (which I of course ate) in addition to my new coffee order.

In retrospect this breakfast wasn’t all that good. Taking the time to fix my own coffee at home would have saved me half a day’s worth of calories and lots of guilt.

Painting a Healthy Lifestyle

A few months ago, I was congratulating myself on consistent healthy eating and reaching a decent weight (except for my waistline which, let’s face it, ain’t ever going away). Tonight I climb on the scale after months of feeling no need and I am in a state of shock! Did I mention the holiday season has just begun. Add to that the winter retreat to the great indoors, coupled with more COVID isolation, and who knows where that dial will stop.

I can no longer fool myself into believing that slopping paint around canvases is an upper body workout. No, it does not result in more muscle mass and thus a heavier healthier body.

Staying at home has led us all into daily wardrobes only slightly more formal than pajamas. Designers are putting out more elastic waistbands. No need to diet when all clothing fits nicely. Wearing masks camouflages us so well no one recognizes us so who needs makeup. Turtlenecks cover what masks do not so poof no more turkey wattle.

The first step to getting healthy again is no more takeout. No more bang bang shrimp, mashed potatoes and the wonderful warm, crusty bread with pesto.

Can’t blame takeout though. I do a wonderful eating my own cooking. Must ease up on chunks of cheddar and cream cheese in a green jalapeño boat covered with bacon. Won’t even mention Luke’s homemade divinity, fudge, and brownies (It is the holiday season). It all leads to an apron that is not made of fabric.

Carbs begone!

Not waiting for any new year’s resolution.

Stay shut refrigerator door!

Going to practice Hygge the Scandinavian approach to dealing with long cold dark winter-exercising outside regardless the weather. Enjoying it. So stay tuned.

The Finale

But talk about sabotaging yourself. I just saw a young man looking through his mail at the curbside while standing in the road close to where cars are passing him. Did I mention he was smoking a cigarette? When he gets hit by a car he will be able to say it wasn’t COVID and it wasn’t lung cancer. it was sheer stupidity. UGH!!

Many Ask How They Can Loosen Up

Obviously. they are talking about how they can loosen up their art technique. Of course many of them are very uptight so they could be talking about other things. In general they want to be less realistic and more interpretive, but cannot give themselves permission to break the rules of art taught by teachers in their pasts and rewarded by judges who are sometimes smitten by realistic technique.

So why ask me?

My First Guitar (loosen up your painting)

Some History

My past training was to be a counselor; a masters degree from William and Mary which took 4 years. I was working around moving into a new home and 2 babies. But at the tail end of the program. when offered a part-time newspaper illustrator job, I jumped at it and it totally changed my career path.

Newspaper illustration is by necessity quite anchored in realism. You drew and added color to stories that, at least in the 1980’s, reflected the current world, nation, region, city as well as holidays, events and culture.

  • I did serious stories
  • mental illness,
  • the prison system,
  • relationship issues

that were interspersed with stories that could easily use a cartoon approach.

I was not a painter. That was an evolution. When I quit I went back to traditional watercolor. Even that medium has hard edges which were no longer satisfying. Defined foregrounds, focus area and background became predictable and tiresome. Since I never went to art school I didn’t know what rules I couldn’t break except, of course, the old traditional “leave the white of the paper” watercolor rule. I gradually pushed that envelop aside and created my own style. I say that with confidence because whether the work is good or not everyone insists they know it is mine.

So how do I answer that question?

I make suggestions. The most frequent suggestion being to take a painting you have worked hard on, but are not happy with and give yourself a challenge.

  • Put it aside.
  • Haul out canvas or paper and do it again but this time force yourself to change 25%.
  • Remove some edges.
  • Let the background bleed into the foreground or the most prominent shape.

You can’t ruin your painting because you are not messing with it.

  • Put it aside.
  • Do it a third time using painting number 2 as your guide and change 25% of that one.
  • Throw caution to the wind.
  • Throw on new color or create more or less contrast.
  • See how far you can kill your subject matter before you cannot “read” it anymore.
  • You will be surprised how little definition is required to read an object. Our brains fill in the blanks.
  • Look at it in a mirror or upside down. Have you made any interesting shapes? How would you feel about cropping it? No one is looking, judging.
  • At the very least you can force yourself to use bigger brushes and play with color. If color is too intimidating use black and white which will create grays. If paint is too scary use charcoal and a smudge stick or your fingers that you can dip in water. You can always tighten up afterwards.

Of course then you go back to same ole same ole. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different conclusion. But some artists are more courageous than others and some just can’t shake the critics off their shoulders. Your choice.

I take my own advice and will revise art that I no longer find exciting or satisfying. In most cases they are pieces that I subconsciously am second guessing because of the critic on my shoulder.

If I ruin it I haul out the gesso, but most times I feel I have brought it back to life.

Thinking about Landscape Painting

I am at the beach thinking about landscape painting.

I think the reason that I did not become a landscape painter was because I got so tired of seeing the same old same old photographic postcard copy a beautiful scenes. And that was decades ago.

By now every scene has been rendered and most of them that are so technically exquisite are just boring and repetitive to me as an artist. Which leads me to the thought of how do you look at your environment and want to paint it yet want to avoid just duplicating reality?

I found an old art book dated 1978 and the author was addressing pretty much the same issues. By now we all realize that a beautiful depiction of one’s landscape environment is always a wonderful thing to see hanging in your home.

It takes you back in your memories.

It gives you calm and peace.

But from the point of view of an artist who wants to do something that is unique and even unusual, one needs to try to see your world a bit differently.

Landscape Painting Describing Your World

I say your world because artists should be describing their world. Yes, it is fun to paint photos from your vacation abroad. John Singer Sargent painted magnificent landscapes, watercolor, and sketches in Florence, Venice, the Tyrol, France and Spain. (Personally I think his people sketches are his best). But artists like Andrew Wyeth and Georgia O’Keefe painted what they knew. Wyeth interpreted such as in Christina’s World, but O’Keefe took her Southwest and really made that environment her own. She threw all caution to the winds in her flowers and I am blown away by her courage.

So how does one do that? How do you look at a forest or seascape and see it through different eyes? This is when it gets hard. Your inclination is to look at the waves crashing on the rock and render it. See the beach and the ocean and there you go… one horizontal seascape coming up.

I have done it more times than I can count. They are always best sellers and that reinforces the idea of frankly duplicating your environment. And the more paintings you see that do just that do not encourage you to break out of that mold.

If you want to see the world in a more abstract, personal way, you have to throw away your preconceived notions based largely on the millions of postcards you have seen or purchased, and try your best to be an interpreter.

What is it that attracted you to that particular scene:

  • a close-up of a flower,
  • or was it the light,
  • was it the color,
  • was it the shape,
  • was it an ethereal feeling of mist or snow or fog,
  • was it the old architectural structure such as a barn, a shed, an old car, farm implements, was it an old part of town with engaging architectural elements?

If you start your painting and forget what led you to it, trust me you will lose its essence. So write it on a post it.

If you merely render these visual things and you don’t stretch yourself to interpret them, all you are doing is being a photographer with a paintbrush. I do this all the time and I kick myself every time. I want my art to be unique.

The world is our oyster as the saying goes. If you put aside the juror and buyer hanging over your shoulder, your work will be more satisfying. Now of course, I am not talking to those artists who have to sell to pay the bills.

Engaging in Memory of Feeling

And I think that when I am painting my other themes (not landscape) I am engaged in my memory of what I feel about the subject perhaps musicians and dancers so I think I can get out of the photographic realism mode.

  • I can add motion,
  • I can add exaggerated color.
  • I can add in music especially cluster groups of musicians together and play with those elements.

For some reason in landscapes (maybe because it is in most cases static) I find it much more difficult. It isn’t begging for interpretation.

Painting in a More Personal Way

We are influenced by what the public buys. And I can paint and sell them all day long. But I want to be able to paint in a more personal way, yet still reach a public that loves them enough to buy them. But first I have to do enough of them to show a small collection. And to do that I probably need to pick one theme and work it until I like it.

It could be the James River. I live here. I love the river and it’s marshes, the osprey, the great blue heron that fly over my backyard.

What is it that I want to do, that will be important to me, meaningful to me, and unique. Otherwise, frankly, I am a hack. Another artist painting another beach scene. Or another marsh landscape.

So I am a work in progress. And you will have to stay tuned to see what actually happens. Even at my age I can evolve. So long as some part of my body can hold a brush I will paint.

Perhaps by writing this I can force myself to commit to actually doing the experimentation.

During this era of self isolation I don’t have much of an excuse. But like all of you, I put everything else first, then say I didn’t have time. Seriously though I have higher expectations of myself than anyone can put on me. I want to do my best, but have to remember- the perfect is the enemy of the good. Maybe next time I will have something positive to relate about this journey (the reality show word I loathe).

Crashing Waves Landscape Painting

And if you still need the perfect holiday gift …

I’m available to meet with you at Associates in Dermatology to share a tour of my paintings that are currently available for purchase. Since it wasn’t possible to do my Annual Show and Sale due to COVID restrictions, I want to make sure you can find the beautiful painting you’d love to see hanging on your wall or the wall of a loved one. Reach out and contact me today.

2020 Personal Art Show and Sale

Hi to all my clients, collectors and friends,

I have been thinking for a while about how I could host my 5th Annual Art Show and Sale at Associates in Dermatology this November. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions/rules for any event, but especially for one at a medical office are just not conducive to an enjoyable event. I am, therefore, reluctantly postponing the Art Show to a (hopefully) more relaxed time in the spring of 2021.

The good news is that during this fall and holiday season I am more than happy to work with anyone who would like to make an appointment to meet me at the office after hours (including weekends) to preview/purchase art that I have for sale. 

As you know, this is my only sales event and I would enjoy meeting you on a more personal level than my yearly art show allows.

My website will continue to include new work, and be sure to check out my blog while you’re there.

You can always contact me directly online as well as text or call me at 757-846-3650.

Midnight and Going Strong 20x16 for personal art show

Visit Smithfield Art Center Show through October

Smithfield Art Center Show through October

It’s been going on for a bit, but I wanted to let you know I’ve got When the Improbable Happens displayed in the lovely Smithfield Art Center Show through October. This is the same painting that I did for the Richmond Art Works and shared with you in an earlier blog.

Take a stroll through the quaint town of Smithfield and stop by the Art Center (319 Main St., Smithfield, Virginia). There are many amazing artists displaying at the Art Center as well as many who produce their work there.

For a fun Saturday morning, you may also enjoy the Smithfield Farmer’s Market just up the street. They offer fresh produce, meats, meals, and a vendors of all sorts from honey to quilts.

Still Going Strong Or Equal Time

After all these years of thinking about a comic strip or cartoon panel I am finally going to do it. In the 1980’s, my family included young teens and I have dozens of ideas I kept in a folder. But before the internet one had to sign on with a syndicate.

At that time working at the Daily Press newspaper as an illustrator and raising 2 kids was all I could handle. Several years later For Better or Worse beat me to it.

Fast forward to 2020 and the teens are still teens, but now they are my grandkids. And yes, internet and social media has changed the world, but people have not changed that much. I’m thinking with a little updating my originals are still relevant.

What has changed is that the only group left that one can still make fun of any more are older people. They, we, can still be degraded, or even thought of as children.

Which leaves a void.

I don’t feel dumb, stupid, or irrelevant.

I am still active as are my friends.

Perhaps it is time for me to put on my thinking cap and create my own version of life in the 20’s. It will be multi-generational and include people with disabilities. And I also hope that if it is not ha ha funny that it will at least provoke some thought.

Keep your eye out on my website and my Facebook page and if you feel so inclined share my work with your friends and ask them to share as well.

Now all I need is a title. I’m open to suggestions.

And here are few of my past ideas … Enjoy!

Baby Cartoon Wedding Cartoon

How My Dance Series Started

Among most couples I believe one is a dance lover and the other, well, not so much a dance lover. I would bet the former is female. My husband, Luke, could have, with no intention to do bodily harm, broken every toe on my feet in an effort to make me happy on the dance floor. So I finally had him begrudgingly sign up with me for private ballroom dance lessons.
 
For three years we learned everything from the jitterbug to the tango.  We attended exhibitions and dance socials. We danced and danced.  We got to be pretty good before we moved on to learning tai chi and then yoga.

The movement of the dancers was of great interest to Gloria, the painter.  Here my dance series started.  Once I learned the correct posture, forms, and positions of the typical dancers, it was not much of a stretch to render them on paper and canvas. Gown colors were interchangeable as were the fore and backgrounds. Who knew that the waltz could be performed on the edges of cliffs that dropped off into raging Maine rocky coastlines. Or fluttered on hilltops in the spring.  Or shimmied in the shallow shorelines of the mid Atlantic. All in elegant flowing colors – especially a touch of red.

The painting style for my dance pieces ranged from fairly static in my early work to a much more abstract looseness as I got more comfortable. The evolution in style mirrored our growing comfort on the dance floor itself.  Funny how my paintings can be so similar to our real life.
 
When I began my dance series, I thought I would enjoy the movement and the color and maybe some folks would find them agreeable. I had no clue there were so many romantic art collectors out there! Trouble is they still want them, but I am no longer inspired!
 
Dance Studio 22.5x30 - My Dance Series Started

Ramblings on Been There Done That

I have recently been working on the fifth iteration of a painting that has never been to my liking. I would show the progression to you from the first to the last evolution, but I am afraid that I would be embarrassed if I see the first couple tries were much better than the last. It has happened before. 

I get into these situations because I have not really done my homework. Just because I have reached a comfort zone in any of the many themes I have explored, does not mean that I will continue to be able to achieve the same emotional involvement I used to have.

Comfort zones involve the ability to do anything, not just painting, with less physical and mental effort.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of the work continues to meet my personal expectations.

We are not talking simply experience levels.  Creativity is different. If I intend to continue to paint a theme, I know I must change something. Change could involve my approach, my technique, maybe my canvas size, maybe even changing the medium.

But you all know what happens. By the time the public catches up with you, and trust me that takes a while and lots of pieces of art, boredom has already set in. The series continues in its same way because of many factors including (and quite high on the list), the ability to sell those works or to win awards with them.

I cannot criticize those artists who have to sell their work in order to continue to paint and make a living doing so. I have been there.

The problem – boring repetition, same ole color palettes, even same sizes all leads to worrying that you will never again do anything new and exciting. You remember how great it felt even when you were stumbling around learning how to paint. Then embarking on a newer series and seeing that evolve. Then after many years it seems the excitement well dries up.

People suggest changing media- try oils or go back to watercolor or what about ceramics, clay, 3D and sometimes it works for a little while. Great artists do it. Paul Simon cut Songs of the Capeman, Neil Diamond The Jazz Singer, McCartney an Oratorio.

I created a small 3D shoe series, some black and white paintings, and a few collages using computer parts. I will publish my cartoon series called Equal Time. I am now blogging as well (as you are now reading).

But there is a part of me that feels that there is something else -a painting something else- out there that I am meant to do. The activist in me wants to make a social or environmental statement, but my skin is too thin. So I hold back.

Well, take these thoughts and we can all stick them where the sun don’t shine. However, something positive is bound to happen. I have to make it happen. So l will persist. Stay tuned for how that something might happen. 

Not my mother's shoes

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