Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mag 54 - Upset


She thought she had
All the pieces fitted together
When fate bumped
The board.

February 2011

If want to partake of some very good poetry on play along visit Magpie Tales 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Art Sunday - Mine

The Long Return

The above is the painting for which I did the study that just won second place in the Moreno Valley Arts Council Winter Invitational Exhibit. I had not finished it when the submission deadline rolled around. It isn't easy keeping up with show submissions especially this time of the year. I did include this piece with the five I submitted to the Old Pass Gallery in Raton for their New Mexico Women Artists show in March. I was accepted and now it is narrow the five done to three. Favorites have nothing to do with this process.

It is in part about the gallery or show dynamics. The three pieces will be hung together and so they must be on some level cohesive. I will need to frame the above one as the other two will be framed. I will work on that today.

Another aspect of my choice is what one judge called geo-spacial cultural dynamic. Raton has a different one than I do where I live or where I am inspired. So I am going with the cliff dwellings and three different treatments.

Hidden in the Cliff

Hiding from the Sun
 This new focus on what I would call my more traditional canyon pieces has re-energized my interest in doing a canyon triptych. I worked on my sketch for this work last night. It will be three panels 24 x 8 each.  So what treatment do I give it? Something to ponder while I am making a frame.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Busines of Art - Art Vita or Ribbons are Important

My painting with the Red Ribbon
I won a Red Ribbon at the Moreno Valley Arts Council Winter Exhibit last night. I was thrilled but more for my friend Laura Holbrook. She won her first only prize - a 1st Place Blue Ribbon for her jewelry.

Jewelry by Laura Holbrook of Juniper Jewels
Robert Wilder Nightingale of Wilder Nightingale Fine Art was the judge for our show. The bio of the judge is important. It was an honor to have Rob as a judge. A visit to his gallery in the heart of Taos or to the linked website is proof of his eye for art.

My friend, Laura Holbrook, had not had the joy of winning a ribbon before. She finished in the money as the saying goes. But more than the ribbon and the check is the ability to add that new line under Awards and Honors on your art vita or biographical sketch. Keeping up your artistic resume is every bit as important as maintaining that portfolio of your work. Some fairs ask for it for press releases, all potential galleries want one, any gallery you are in wants it updated, and it is nice to have it on hand when a publication wants to feature you in an article.

Winning awards and ribbons is one of the reasons for entering exhibits. And art fairs that have awards figure higher in the "which show to apply to" shuffle. But is is also the opportunity to have your work evaluated by a professional in your field and not just by the buyers, though they are really important. I try to enter edgier new work in exhibits and the the Moreno Valley Arts Council Winter Exhibit was a great place to debut my new dark side work. I was very pleased that The Long Walk received a ribbon.

Judge Robert Wilder Nightingale and best of show piece by Wanda Rodgers

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Magpie 53 - Just a Pinch of Salt

 Just a Pinch of Salt

The light caught its facets
Amid the rubble of the tornado
I bent and picked it up
Looked obsessively for its mate
Some other tiny treasure
From Grandmother's china cabinet.

The hours I had spent
Peering through its curved glass
At the alabaster parrot
A crystal vase
Her collection of salt and pepper shakers
Individual for each diner at her table.

The table was in the tree
The bronze horses bent and broken
The glass of the china cabinet
Glittered upon the bare slab
Once the house's floor
Beneath the Persian carpet in the neighbor's yard.

"All yours when I am gone," she would say
Before asking me to fetch her medicine
Those bottles tumbled out of the upturned frig
Not a single one broken
Colorful capsules everywhere
Like confetti among the glass.

I took the tinny shaker in my hand
Up ending it salt sprinkled out
I pinched it from my palm
Tossed it over my shoulder
Bad luck to spill salt
Even from a shaker unbroken in a tornado?

"She was a mean spirited woman"
Mother whispered at my back
"All her precious treasures gone
It is what comes of holding things too dear"
I closed my hand over the sole survivor
And put it in my pocket.

J. Binford-Bell 2011
Ruskin Heights Tornado
May 20, 1957

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Art Sunday - Watercolor Painting

Chateau by Joseph Mallord William Turner
 I thought I would look at watercolors today for Art Sunday. Water media is my chosen direction. And I am also in love with what the masters could do with watercolor. Joseph Mallord William Turner was a master of the medium.
Alpine Scene by Turner
But other artists more famous for their oil paintings also used watercolor very successfully. It was a favorite medium of American artists like Winslow Homer.

After the Hurricane by Winslow Homer

Some people think they know what a watercolor should look like but a painting executed in water media can look anyway the artist wants it to look.

Crayfishing by Carl Larsson

Watercolor by Paul Cezanne
 Some artists relegated watercolor to the study or sketch for larger works that would be done later in oil, but there is an energy and immediacy of the original sketch that often makes them more memorable than the finished piece.

Turtle by Lian Zhen
 The Chinese are often seen as the masters of watercolors. And I made it a point to study Chinese techniques. I was surprised to find that often these enchanting works begin with an India Ink sketch laying in the darker tones so that an overlay of transparent pigment is darker and more dense giving the work more depth as in the above work. It also saves on use of the more expensive pigments.

From the New World Encyclopedia on line:

Watercolor, also known in French as aquarelle, is named for its primary component. It consists of a pigment dissolved in water and bound by a colloid agent (usually a gum, such as gum arabic); it is applied with a brush onto a supporting surface, such as vellum, fabric, or—more typically—dampened paper. The resulting mark (after the water has evaporated) is transparent, allowing light to reflect from the supporting surface, to luminous effect. Watercolor is often combined with gouache (or "bodycolor"), an opaque water-based paint containing a white element derived from chalk, lead, or zinc oxide.

The technique of water-based painting dates to ancient times, and belongs to the history of many cultures in the world. In the West, European artists used watercolor to decorate illuminated manuscripts and to color maps in the Middle Ages, and to make studies from nature and portrait miniatures during the Renaissance. When the Western world began to mass produce paper, the medium took on a whole new dimension of creativity.

The advantages of watercolor lie in the ease and quickness of its application, in the transparent effects achievable, in the brilliance of its colors, and in its relative cheapness.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flight - The Odd Piece Out

Flight  10 x 23
When I first learned watercolor and UNM I had two professors. One, Smith, taught me glazes and details and how much time can go into a painting even in a fast drying medium like watercolor. The other, Lewis, restricted us to a ten color palate, loved plein aire, and admired the brushing of the Chinese. The two approaches often war within me. One would consider Flight a mere sketch, the other would say, "Good, now don't over-work it."

After the laboring over The Long Return it was good to just splash down a few colors on Flight. And isn't winter about experimentation? And is it an experiment? A tentative step in a new direction? Or a return to my roots? And what do you do with the odd piece out? Hang it in your studio or your bedroom? Certainly you never enter it in an exhibit or put it in your fair booth for people to remark, "A bit of a different palate for you."

But it is the same palate. All these colors were already there on the studio table. There are still the pinks and lavenders and yellows the casual visitor to canyons doesn't believe are there. Just more of the carbon black (both professors were opposed to black) and burnt sienna than is usual. And my usual ravens are there casting shadows on the canyon wall. I have used salt for texture in the foreground but I have also played around with a granulation medium. And brushing with a barely wet brush. One I have feathered out. It really figured very prominently in the rendering of the lacquer on the cliff face.

It is nice to stretch once in a while. To go where you have not been. To take flight as it were.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Magpie 52 - A Pause

A pause

Long after she walked past
She thought of it
The little green house
On Bent Street.

Shoved to one side
On a double lot
It had what it's neighbors didn't
A yard with trees.

She found herself circling the block
Looking again at  it stretching back
Bigger than its facade revealed
Seeing at last the For Sale Sign.

She memorized the number to call.
About her little green house
Before hurrying on for her appointment
Pausing not to ponder fate.

J. Binford-Bell

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Long Return

The Long Return  22x26 mixed media on canvas
I am always thrilled when I call a painting done. This one was actually finished after this picture was taken. There were some minor details I changed after it posed for this picture. I like the afternoon light in my studio best for photographs of my work. And I like them taken with the camera mounted on the tripod and the aperture setting so no flash. If you are going to be picky about your work you should be picky about how you record it too.

I am entering this piece into the Old Pass Gallery's New Mexico Women Artists March show. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Not enough to just paint - Business Matters

The artist and works at the Rio Grande Fair
Time was when an artist stayed in their studio and hoped a gallery owner would come calling. You entered exhibits to garner awards and call attention to yourself but you did not actively market your own wares. But there has been a sea change in that over the last two decades. Street fairs became art fairs and then festivals and you had to get into the best ones to have an audience that would buy your works. I know artist that do 18 to 32 weekend shows a year. Or did before the economy went south.

I had done at the most eight fairs a year and dropped to only three last year. Some shows are having a tough time filling booths and galleries are going under. I feel quite lucky having two galleries showing my work currently. But I and other artists have begun to actively look at marketing our own works without travel time and money and booth fees. Enter the Internet.

Time was you paid someone to build you a website and update it for you. Then software made it easier to do yourself. But driving people to your website required marketing and so you were back to the fairs and exhibits with cards given out with your website. Still websites are more catalogs or brochures of your work. They have saved printing costs and trees. Then came Facebook as a marketing strategy. And for me it began with a profile page and posting my latest works. Then came the fan page - Binford-Bell Studio.

I initially thought of the fan page as a way to steer people to my website but then found I was selling paintings shortly after posting them on my Facebook fanpage. And yesterday through an innocent question to my friend Katherine McDermott, owner of Artspace Gallery, about paypal I discovered the store front available on Facebook - Payvment. So yesterday I worked hard at getting my store front set up. It is in the Shop Now tab on my fan page wall. Payments are run through my PayPal standard business account. Bye bye having to have an expensive merchant credit card account to sell on line. I'm ecstatic, but also very busy exercising my left brain.

Are you still just painting? Time to put that computer to use for more than downloading and storing images.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Magpie 51 - Heavy on her hand

Heavy on her hand

It had never felt right
She was always fretting with it
Twisting it with her thumb
At idle moments
Turning it round and round with her right
When anxious or lost.

Sometimes she could not stand it at all
It made her left hand heavy
She would take it off and put it in her pocket
Forget it was there till she reached for change
Or heard it pinging against the drum
In the dryer.

Rushing to meet him
She slipped it on
As she walked beside the brick road
In old Atlanta
Late as usual she fretted
Turning his grandmother' ring about her finger.

Then it was gone
She heard it bounce
Saw a flash of light off the gold
As it rolled onto the bricks
And vanished
Amid the pebbles and grit and ash
In the cracks.

Why did she feel oddly relieved
Her hand, and head and heart so light?
She stopped seeking the hidden ring
Stood and walked the other way
She would call later
From Tampa or Phoenix
Or any of the cracks on the map.

With her free left hand she waved a taxi down.

J. Binford-Bell February 2011