Monday, August 20, 2012

Fall Watercolor Class Schedule

I will again offer Fall Watercolor Classes at the Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville for both Intermediate and Beginner Level. Intermediate classes begin Tues. Sept 18th and Beginner classes begin on Wed Sept 19th.

See EVENTS page for class description, fees and full schedule.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Waiting for a bird..

North American Goldfinch lit upon purple coneflowers in my garden.
Terrible terrible picture, I know, but I finally got a shot of this little fellow who has been visiting my garden all summer long. I have waited patiently for him, since my husband and I first saw him at the end of May, lightly holding onto a fresh new coneflower in my garden. Some days, I was very methodical about it all...setting my camera on the tripod and setting just the right angle and all that (though I am a far cry from a photographer!) But he wouldn't come. At least not while I was there and ready for him. Several times I would open the back door from the kitchen and walk out onto the porch to take Lily, our golden retriever puppy out in the yard and I would see his golden body through a corner of my eye, softly lit upon a flower, head down, nibbling a drying seedhead and as soon as I could move to turn toward him, he was off, flying deep into the green of a neighbors tree. As the summer wore on and the air became still and heavy, and the neighboring yards quiet, but for the chirping of the cicada's, he would come to eat and stay. Even my walking onto the porch didn't frighten him off. I had stopped trying to photograph him weeks before, stopped trying to be the bird papparazzi...let him eat in peace, I said to myself. Let me just enjoy him, let him enjoy too. Except for that one last day that I thought I'd just see...see if he came back...and see if I could get a photo...because, like everything else, memories fade and I wanted to remember this summer and this little visitor...and all the waiting. 

And he did not disappoint. 

Thank you, goldfinch.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In their words

“You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
- What mood is that?
Last-minute panic.”


Calvin & Hobbes

I have said this. To my husband (often!), to friends and if I am honest here, I have said it to myself. I think most of us have. But, how many of us truly believe it?

Do you have to be in the right mood to create? 

Can you turn it on and off like a faucet? Or is the creativity there, always present and (as Picasso said) "it just has to find you working"?

I think it's a little of both. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Study for Folly Island Marsh Scene

           "Folly Sunset"  5"x 9.25"               
Watercolor                            $125

Working on several small studies for a larger marsh scene I want to paint. The smaller pieces allow me to work out my palette and play around with different techniques and textures. I've kept my palette very limited at this point, with a cool dominance. Using: Winsor Blue (red shade), Winsor Blue (green shade), Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Raw Sienna, Aereolin, Rose Madder Genuine - all Winsor Newton brand. I have not used masking fluid, but lifted or scraped in the highlighted grasses. No detail has been put in at this point. I'm really just exploring the subject matter and trying to keep it loose and suggestive, letting my impression of the scene come through. Thinking of trying out a slightly different color palette to see if I can get the feeling of more distance. Also noticing that the values are mainly in the mid-range and I will need to develop a full range of values in future studies.

Monday, June 18, 2012

In Their Words

"It seems to me that today, if the artist wishes to be serious - cut out a little original niche for himself, or at least preserve his own innocence of personality - he must once more sink himself in solitude. There is too much talk and gossip; pictures are apparently made, like stock market prices, by the competition of people eager for profit; in order to do anything at all we need (so to speak) the wit and ideas of our neighbors as much as the businessmen need the funds of others in order to win on the market. All this traffic sharpens our intelligence and falisifies our judgement."  ~ Edgar Degas, 1834 - 1917, taken from an early notebook.  

I am adding a new section entitled In Their Words located on the sidebar to the right side of this page. I also hope,  from time to time, to post what I hope to become a series of blog posts for discussion under the same title. The inspiration for this new material comes from a little paperback book I stumbled upon at a used bookstore. I have been reading (off and on for the past year),  Artists on Art, from the XIV to the XX Century by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves. It's an anthology of writings, on the subject of art, gleaned from 142 artists throughout the centuries. A few of the writings are taken from more formal "academic" talks given by the artist themselves, but most are from personal letters or journals the artists wrote in their own hand. I love this book. It is a gem. It is direct and intimate, a view into the lives and experiences of the 'masters' and beyond, a view into the social and cultural values of their times and an insight into the difficulty of creating. It is also, in my opinion, a view into the present, as the journey we are on as artists, is not so different from those that went before us. I hope you enjoy these 'pearls' as much as I do and I hope they provoke some thought. ~ Nancy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The "Perfect" is the enemy of good.

"The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right, solely on the quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the 'quantity' group: fifty pounds of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B" and so on. Those being graded on 'quality' needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all being produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seemed that the 'quantity' group was busy churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the 'quality' group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."  - Excerpted from the book - Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland

I have been making art my whole life. Really...well maybe not my whole life but pretty much since I was 4 or 5 years old..or so my mother tells me. My father, a very sentimental saver of all things that he deems interesting or important, has alot of my childhood drawings to prove it. To look at those 'works' is to see pure joy. Joy in the process, joy in the creating and joy in discovering. If you are lucky, as I was as a child, your 'works' are received with joy and encouragement and you continue to explore and create until one day someone calls you an artist. Fast forward 40 plus years (okay, more than that!) and suddenly the joy is replaced by hesitation...and doubt. What is going on, I ask myself. How did this happen? And why? I was enjoying myself, or so I thought. I was getting somewhere - making headway. For Godsakes I am teaching fellow artists, how can this be happening to me?!  How can I encourage them when I am suddenly so unsure of myself?

I  KNOW that inner critic. I have been down that road as a student of the arts and I know how to listen to that inner voice and have trusted it to help make me better. It has always been my trusted friend, the thing that I could count on for balance and truth, when the world around you is full of nothing but warm praise or the flip side of that coin, harsh criticism. What, exactly, is my inner voice trying to say? Why is it stopping me in my tracks? And......what is UP with THAT??

"We have met the enemy and he is us" - Pogo

"If you think good work is somehow synonomous with perfect work, you are headed for big trouble". " require perfection is to invite paralysis." "The patten is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do - away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes." - the authors write, in the book Art and Fear.

Hmmm. OK. I get that, I see myself in that story, as I see much of the book Art & Fear. I am very much like the student(s) in that second group, who fear not being able to produce that "perfect" piece. Not so much 'perfect', as in no mistakes, but my own version of perfect that is measured by the criteria I have set up for myself, in my mind's eye. Procrastinate though? Yes, if I'm to be honest I suppose I do to some extent (although I have been calling it 'busy').

As I read further comes this pearl of wisdom that somewhere deep down I already knew but had buried deep:

"The seed for your next work, lies imbedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you are feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides - valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgemental guides - to matters you need to reconsider or develop further."  (page 31, Art & Fear)

Imperfections are our guides to matters we need to develop further; they are our roadmap for development, for betterment as an artist, in honing our skills. I have always embraced this concept, and believed it to be true for all matter what you are doing in your life. We are human, we err; and if we are smart, we learn from our mistakes....we grow.  "That's why they put erasers on pencils", my husband loves to say! But I'd forgotten that and had become stiff and self-conscious, letting the door open, so that 'doubt' could walk in.

Self doubt -> Magic?

"There's a myth amoung amateurs, optimists and fools
that beyond a certain level of achievement,
famous artists retire to some kind of Elysium
where criticism no longer wounds
and work materializes without their effort."
- Mark Matousek
(page 33, Art & Fear)

Even as artists we buy into the misconception that art is Magic. And maybe, just maybe, that psyches us out just a little every now and again. We look around us and work seems to flow out of others. What is wrong with us, we think? Have we lost 'the magic'? But it is not magic. It is effort that draws on knowledge. Knowledge that is earned by doing, by experience. To believe that it is magic, is to invalidate the incredible accomplishments of the creative (and scientific) world, to invalidate what masters such as Michaelangelo, DaVinci, Bach & Beethoven have accomplished and to turn a blind eye to the hard work behind the theories of Einstein and the great inventions of Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright Brothers amoung others. Without failure, without mistakes, there would be no progress.

I begin to realize that the "Imperfect" is the ally of good. And the critic within me, can be again, a trusted friend.

Keep painting, friends, and keep making mistakes. Imperfect is the friend of good....

- Nancy

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Following the Muse - Experiments with Gelatin Printing

gelatin monotype on mulberry paper

So,  I have been playing. And it's been contagious, because I have others playing now too. Truth be told, I caught this bug after doing some serious research on varied methods for experimental watermedia and it has been the most fun that I've had doing anything in a long time. (except for spending time with my sweeet sweet 5 month old golden retriever, Lily) I am refering to Gelatin Printing. There is something about this process that has just intrigued me. Maybe it's the unpredictable nature of the printmaking process, maybe it's the organic feel to the gelatin plate, but I am hooked, mesmerized and totally in love with the process. And me, a watercolor painter and a pretty representational one at that. Go figure. But art is not restrictive...shouldn't be. And so, the playing, the exploration of other methods and other mediums. Following the muse. 

gelatin monotype on mulberry paper
Now, I haven't done any printmaking since my college days, which was quite a few years ago, but I loved it then. I remember a whole year of walking around with black ink inbedded in every groove and wrinkle in my hands. Oil based ink in those days...hard to get out completely, so you just wore what wouldn't come off. It was ok. Was the badge of being a printmaker. Being more of an illustrator, I gravitated to lithography and intaglio back then. Black and white mostly, occasionally color. But, like I said, I loved it. I enjoyed the process of printmaking. Making gelatin prints is the same, but different. It's just as messy, but since you are using waterbased inks and paints, the clean up is better. Gelatin printing, in my opinion, is a much more organic process and the results are more exciting due to it's unpredictable nature. (as you get used to the process, you can manipulate the outcome a good bit, but the end result is still in large part a big surprise) There are numerous websites and YouTube video's out there on the wild wild web, but the one I found most useful is Linda Germain's website and accompanying blog. She gives full directions for making the gelatin plates (there are many recipes, but hers are the most sturdy, in my opinion). She also has a nice little video showing you the basics of how to go about inking up your plate and pulling your prints.

So. Ready to explore? Go for it. Experiment. Let your hair down and have some fun.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dale Cochran - New Member at Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville

I'm excited to announce that Dale Cochran is our newest member of the Artists Guild Gallery! We will host Dale with a First Friday Opening Reception on Friday March 2nd from 6 - 9 pm.  Please drop by the gallery this Friday evening and join us in welcoming Dale!