Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poetry Wednesday

Boy the weeks run fast this time of year. Hopefully after this weekend I will be able to slow down and enjoy the remaining days of 2009 and actually write a poem of my own. But for now I am thrilled some of our participants are writing, and that Poem Hunter keeps sending me good ones to post.


Knows he who tills this lonely field
To reap its scanty corn,
What mystic fruit his acres yield
At midnight and at morn?

In the long sunny afternoon,
The plain was full of ghosts,
I wandered up, I wandered down,
Beset by pensive hosts.

The winding Concord gleamed below,
Pouring as wide a flood
As when my brothers long ago,
Came with me to the wood.

But they are gone,— the holy ones,
Who trod with me this lonely vale,
The strong, star-bright companions
Are silent, low, and pale.

My good, my noble, in their prime,
Who made this world the feast it was,
Who learned with me the lore of time,
Who loved this dwelling-place.

They took this valley for their toy,
They played with it in every mood,
A cell for prayer, a hall for joy,
They treated nature as they would.

They colored the horizon round,
Stars flamed and faded as they bade,
All echoes hearkened for their sound,
They made the woodlands glad or mad.

I touch this flower of silken leaf
Which once our childhood knew
Its soft leaves wound me with a grief
Whose balsam never grew.

Hearken to yon pine warbler
Singing aloft in the tree;
Hearest thou, O traveller!
What he singeth to me?
Not unless God made sharp thine ear
With sorrow such as mine,
Out of that delicate lay couldst thou
The heavy dirge divine.

Go, lonely man, it saith,
They loved thee from their birth,
Their hands were pure, and pure their faith,
There are no such hearts on earth.

Ye drew one mother's milk,
One chamber held ye all;
A very tender history
Did in your childhood fall.

Ye cannot unlock your heart,
The key is gone with them;
The silent organ loudest chants
The master's requiem.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

More poems from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nicholas V 

Never on Sunday 

My so called life

If you have a poem for this Wednesday leave a comment below.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now to Making the Frames

Guarded Passage
28 x 18 Mixed Media on Canvas

This is the third time I have done a "goddess" sitting in for Corona Arch. Each time I take another look the painting gets more mystical or visionary. And this is the largest of the ones I have done. The first with Navajo women tending their angora goats. And each rendition seems to have more water.

Spider Rock
18 x 10 Mixed Media on Canvas

This is one of the "accidental" pair I featured in the previous blog. The photo was not great because it was flash in-the-studio shot just showing its relationship to the previously finished painting. Spider Rock is a new subject for me. The Navajo believe it is where Spider Woman, the mother of weaving, resides. It's split peak rises from the floor of Canyon de Chelle on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. No doubt I will revisit this subject.

I frequently approach a new subject on a small canvas. It allows me to explore colors more easily. These study works are very popular with my collectors as they are more reasonable to buy. But also there is a freshness in my approach that can get lost in the retelling. Spider rock warrants a bigger canvas. And I thought Monumental Path that I did earlier this fall also did, but I changed the proportions of height and width rather than just size.

Rainbow Journey
14 x 18 Mixed Media on Canvas

This is not an abject failure because there are parts of the treatment of the subject I like a lot. When I poured the sky it did some awesome things. If this was paper I would cut the bottom off just above the goats and have the subject be just the sky and the monuments. And I may do that in another painting. Or I have heard of artists that re-stretch the canvas onto a smaller frame. For now I will frame it. someone may love it. I have been wrong before. And sometimes the frame can make all the difference.

My plan for frames for the three above and the partner of the one in the middle is to do multi-colored rather than just black. I got some acrylic paints that pick up the dominant colors in my paintings. The floater frames will be painted inside with one color, outside with another and a third color on the raised edge. I have toyed with this concept and found it very successful because it enlarges the painting and also unifies it with its frame.

Framed paintings pictures later, of course.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sometimes You Get Lucky

I have been preparing for the last show of the year and playing with new subjects and new proportions. Making canvases that are tall and thin or wide and short has been one of the happy possibilities of stretching my own canvas. Another plus of that extra labor is you save money on materials and so don't have to raise prices in a struggling economy.

I stretched up some new canvases and then began looking for subjects to be painted upon them. Then doing sketches. I painted the one on the left last week. It is the center segment of a larger painting I did years ago. I had not meant it to be one of a pair. I often do my churches painted on the diagonal in pairs; making one a night scene and the other a day scene. That was not the intention here. I stretched two canvases because I was exploring the compositional problems with tall and thin. I did not even do the sketch for the painting on the right of Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelle until this week. The other one was on a flat shelf waiting to be framed. I pulled it out yesterday to make room for a painting that needed to dry.

Last night I set them side by side for a "recent works from the studio" shot and to see which I preferred.  The colors I expected to go together. I work in the same palette especially in painting done within a like time frame. I was shocked to find the horizon lines are almost an exact match and it works either way you put them. So I will frame them as a pair.

I bought some acrylic paints on my last trip to Albuquerque so I could paint my frames to coordinate with my paintings. I was looking forward to that part of the process of getting ready for this show. Now I can hardly wait for this winter's artistic explorations. I want to do a triptych with three tall thin canvases covering one subject in thirds. Or two narrows and one square in the middle.

Been blogging a lot recently about the creative process, and exchanging ideas with a writer blogging about the same subject on Catfish Tales. Into the discussion of muses and inspiration and just plain doing I want to interject accident. Sometimes you just get lucky. And from that lucky accident you spring board to new possibilities.

Note: I apologize for the photos. Done with flash and artificial light. Today sometime I will do a formal photograph of Spider Rock. In a previous blog I already showcased Of the Valley.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Again? Then Poetry it Is

The Dream Called Life

From the Spanish of Pedro Calderon de la Barca

A dream it was in which I found myself.
And you that hail me now, then hailed me king,
In a brave palace that was all my own,
Within, and all without it, mine; until,
Drunk with excess of majesty and pride,
Methought I towered so big and swelled so wide
That of myself I burst the glittering bubble
Which my ambition had about me blown,
And all again was darkness. Such a dream
As this, in which I may be walking now,
Dispensing solemn justice to you shadows,
Who make believe to listen; but anon
Kings, princes, captains, warriors, plume and steel,
Aye, even with all your airy theatre,
May flit into the air you seem to rend
With acclamations, leaving me to wake
In the dark tower; or dreaming that I wake
From this that waking is; or this and that,
Both waking and both dreaming; such a doubt
Confounds and clouds our moral life about.
But whether wake or dreaming, this I know,
How dreamwise human glories come and go;
Whose momentary tenure not to break,
Walking as one who knows he soon may wake,
So fairly carry the full cup, so well
Disordered insolence and passion quell,
That there be nothing after to upbraid
Dreamer or doer in the part he played;
Whether tomorrow's dawn shall break the spell,
Or the last trumpet of the Eternal Day,
When dreaming, with the night, shall pass away.

Edward Fitzgerald

More poems from Edward Fitzgerald 

It is Wednesday again so fast. And once more I have not penned any poems of my own. Thank you PoemHunter! And Friends!

If you have a poem to share - you own or anothers - leave me a comment or message me your url. It is a multi-blog poetic journey so you don't have to be on any specific platform.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nobody Said This Would Be Easy

My friend Shers Gallagher on the blogspot Catfish Tales is blogging about the creative process. Her current subject is creating something out of nothing. I don't often start there - at zero - when I paint. I most often begin with a photograph; many of which I have taken myself on visits to historical sites and national parks, etc. But sometimes I just go thumbing through magazines. In the case of the Gila Wilderness Cliff Dwelling above I was thumbing through some old New Mexico Magazines a friend gave me.

In the interest of reducing clutter I was ripping out the photographs which I thought had potential to generate an interesting painting or two. The one I used for Hidden Away was from a slightly different angle then the one above.

I often tell visitors to my studio or booth at a fair, when they remark about my colors, that I do not paint what you saw but what you think you saw. My paintings fit into the Visionary School definition, but I painted like this before I knew there was such a thing. And it is not all my imagination. Various angles of the sun, time of day, quality of light for the day can change the colors of the sandstone. It is like a canvas upon which the atmosphere paints the colors. On the day the picture was taken at the top there was no magic afoot.

I would rather work from a photograph I personally took because it means I was there and whether I captured it or not I remember the magic. It is a more difficult road if I work from a cold picture in a magazine or on the internet. Preparing for this blog I Googled images of the Gila Cliff dwellings and also came up with the one below. There is more magic afoot. And I immediately stored it in my Art Ideas folder.

The photographs provide the basis for the drawings. I say basis because I get to "crop" and "alter" to make a good composition. Then if I am really, really wise I put the photograph away. I didn't with Hidden Away. I had it before me to check for shadows and light and found my mind wanting to follow the colors. Once, a long time ago, I was very, very good at rendering a subject faithfully. Digital cameras do that now. I can even take the above photo into Photoshop and apply sketch to it and come up with a delightful drawing.

Following religiously a photograph or a scene before you allows no room for magic. So when I was having problems with Hidden Away I put the magazine picture away into my folder of ideas. And walked away from the painting process for a few days. When I went back to it things had changed. It was then a painting and not a rendition. I had entered the world I had created and it took over. And the flock of ravens came.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Works

Of the Valley
18 x 10 Mixed Media on Canvas

Manzano of the Black Sheep
11 x 14 on Cradled Clayboard

Hidden Away
16 x 16 Mixed Media on Canvas

Little Chapel of the Lights
10 x 8 Mixed media on cradled clayboard

I promised to post my latest works when I finally got them photographed. This four makes eight new ones for the holiday market on Thanksgiving weekend. I have a few more I want to finish but the time is getting short and there is still framing to be done.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That Magical Moment

A friend of mine on Facebook began a discussion topic on Picture Picks about the Creative Muse. I love ideas that get me thinking and this one definitely does. If you have not seen it please do. It is preamble to my discussion here today.

I have been working on paintings for an upcoming fair and experimenting with some new subjects and new shapes. It is one of the ways to call the muse forward, as it were. Repetition, which a lot of artists do because of the demand for certain work, can be very limiting. In my current group of paintings I am working with two repetitions, two new looks at older compositions, and two departures.

Painting is a process as in writing or composing music. And one may begin without the muse guiding you. You may instead be guided by all those things you learned in school like the rule of threes, and perspective, and the color wheel. And then a spark occurs or a transition away from your carefully laid plan. And among that group of paintings you are working on comes one that breaks out and becomes more.

Photography is a rather different duck in this pond of creating. You compose in the view finder and freeze the moment with a click of your finger. And yet it is still possible for some magic to happen even in that short frame of time that makes this one photograph among all the others on the roll of film or on your flash drive all that more special.

I was thinking about that this morning as I placed my three votes on the Picture Picks Event Furry, Fuzzy, Feathered Friends. There are a host of wonderful pictures in the 41 submitted for this event and yet a much smaller amount seems blessed with some special light, or composition, or movement of the subject. It is very difficult to define. I have sat in more classrooms than I want to admit and listened to professors claim they could manipulate that moment. Reproduce it at will.

NOT. We can learn from those exceptional gifts that are bestowed upon us if we are open to being guided. We can be grateful for when we capture that exceptional photograph or achieve that particularly magical composition on canvas, or on the piano, or in prose or poetry. But repeat it again, and again, and again? Try to imprison the muse. That would lessen it.

Yes, some artists do seem more a channel for greatness than others, but I am sure Mozart threw sheet music in the fireplace, and Shelley wrote and rewrote. That Ansel Adams trashed some negatives in the darkroom before they saw the light of day. Painting over a canvas and beginning again is nothing new to painters. Maybe those that are blessed with more magical moments are just those that do more: take more photographs, write more poems, paint more paintings.

They have at a minimum learned the mechanics. You must first begin with some understanding about what does not work in order to be pointed in the right direction for guidance on another level. And you must be willing to stretch the edges of the envelope. And then get self out of the way. And then learn to recognize it when it happens.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poetry Wednesday - Already?

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

More poems from Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I loved this poem when young. I loved the way it made my mouth feel when I recited it outloud from memory. Do you have a poem that delights you in that way you would like to share. Or one you have written? Leave a message below or on Facebook with your url.

Never on Sunday  


Bee's Blog

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Production Time

I can frankly rather amaze myself at times. After a couple weeks of plutzing around with little to no progress on paintings I now have five being actively being worked, two in holding and four in the planning stages. I have hopes of finishing three tomorrow.

I am working on some new sizes - long and thin. Another artist friend of mine tells me the shape is popular because it fits in small spaces on walls. It means developing some drawings just for those shapes, however.

But I am finding that exciting. I have been looking up photographs I have taken to modify to fit. And I am going to feature more "New Mexico" canyon features like Spider Rock and Window Rock for my next fair in just three weeks from last Friday. Working on smaller paintings to fit the Christmas giving budget here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where I Get My Ideas

Like any artist I get my share of questions about where I get my ideas for paintings. And I have shared some of that here on this blog. But because of my "visionary use of color" I often get questions about where did I get the idea for an orange sky or a sun washed  church. The above photograph was taken out my studio door yesterday morning. Such dawns are not rare in New Mexico.

And sunsets have their own charm as they often wash the mountains with color. The Sandia Mountains outside of Albuquerque were named Sandia (watermelon) by the early Spanish conquerors because of the watermelon pink they can turn at sunset.

I live in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains for much the same reason. They can and often do turn blood read at sunset. Angel Fire was a term first used by much more recent locals to describe the heavenly pink the mountains, snow and clouds can turn at both dawn and sunset.

So the answer to the question, "Where do you get your colors?" is outside my studio windows.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poetic Journey for Wednesday

Canyon March to the Moon

Just got today's daily poem and it deals with the full moon. I have two calendars that mark the phases of the moon. One says today is the full Beaver moon and the other says yesterday was the Mourning Moon. I am not all that sure it matters. There is per astrological belief three days of influence around a full moon. And this lovey poem by Thoreau to celebrate it.

The Moon

Time wears her not; she doth his chariot guide;
Mortality below her orb is placed.

The full-orbed moon with unchanged ray
Mounts up the eastern sky,
Not doomed to these short nights for aye,
But shining steadily.

She does not wane, but my fortune,
Which her rays do not bless,
My wayward path declineth soon,
But she shines not the less.

And if she faintly glimmers here,
And paled is her light,
Yet alway in her proper sphere
She's mistress of the night.

Henry David Thoreau

 Bekkieann at My So-Called Life

NicholasV on Intelliblog

Our friend Heatherbelle on Never on Sunday 

Do you have a poem to share with us this week? Leave a comment or send me your url at Facebook.

Looking for the Perfect Picture

So much about art is business. It is the part I really don't like that much, and so when I do it I try to get it done in almost a marathon push. It does not make me a happy camper. I would literally rather be painting, but my last fair of the year is coming up this month and I would like to get a flier for my studio printed up to pass out at that fair. Plenty images of my art to include but no image of the artist I like that much, so I have been taking some.

The above one is top in Artist in her Studio category. It has all the elements - paintings in background, messy art desk behind, artistic hands, welcoming smile. If you think it is easy to set the timer on the tripoded camera, walk to the studio chair, pick up props, smile, and look like you didn't just do all that in 10 seconds you have another think coming.

I want to do a self-produced brochure for the time being and then play with content so I can have one printed for spring/summer fairs. Then there is a rack card and a post card and within a limited budget. But now that I have a studio I need to promote it and take advantage of the class and lesson area it provides. That means time spent on the business of art. Darn.