Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 14 In and Out of the Studio

At the beginning of this week I had my last Princeton Uncreative Writing class. Aside from being fun, I gave away the pages of my final project titled From Idea to the Word. The students seemed excited to receive a page from my book. There was one for everyone, the title page and one for Kenny Goldsmith, and one for me.  I was very satisfied with the project and the class and quite sad to see it end.

On Tuesday, I met with a Princeton administrator about my paper which is nearly done!  He said I have a few more edits and a bit of rearranging and then I can call it finished. So, early this week I will put what I hope to be the finishing touches of my research paper which will be published by Princeton's McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning. This entire experience has been great and if any ACCC friends are looking in, I highly recommend the program. It was well worth the drive, time, energy, and commitment.  I am happy to say I will be celebrating the end of the program with a nice dinner at Princeton on May 11th.

So now on to the art. I did go to the studio a few days to do some non-painting work in preparation for a workshop I am doing in June which is a series of 4 Mixed Media workshops at the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts (RRCA) in the Glasstown Arts District. They will be held every Thursday in June from 12 noon to 3 PM. This is an adult workshop series and if you are interested please contact the RRCA or me for details.

On Saturday I went to a drawing session at the Hammonton Art Center (HAC). I joined Cort Bellevance (retired ACCC Art Professor and my boss) and other HAC members and the subject was Brenda's (upstairs studio at HAC) daughter. The drawings below are the result of 4 poses within 2 hours. The average pose was 15-20 minutes.
Medium: Pencil on Paper
Sketchbook Spread of Two Poses

Detail of Portrait Sketch in Pencil and Gouache on Brown Paper

Today (Sunday) I ventured back to Morris Beach. I lived there for nearly 7 years and this is the place I met John. With Paula and Cathie, I painted near Marge and Joe's homestead. We went all the way down to the back bay. I decided for the very first time to paint in oil on site. 

At first it went very smoothly but later became like painting with icing. BUT I am very happy with the results. I did not paint the dock but instead focused on broad areas and scratched some minute details on the panel. I did see moments of pink, purple and orange in the marshes and the sounds of the local birds were a very pleasant song greatly enjoyed while painting.

Back Bay Morris Beach
Medium: Oil on Primed Panel

Detail of tower at Morris Beach back bay

The entire painting probably took about 1.5-2 hours. The panel is small at only 9 by 12 inches.  I do plan on doing more of these. It is a real test of being innovative and creative with color, brushstrokes, and composition. Though not a masterpiece....not bad for my very first plein air painting.

Stay tuned as more to come next weekend here at Cheryl's Studio Blog as I bring you updates from in and out of the studio!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weeks 12 and 13 (Out and Back In) the Studio

The last two weeks have been incredibly busy writing, writing, writing but I think finally I am approaching putting closure on my paper.  I wanted to report on some things I have seen and done as I return to making more art and a bit less writing.  I want to start with my trip to Washington, DC with two dear friends...the perfect weekend though it was very crowded with the Cherry Blossom AND Japan Festivals underway.

We went to the Freer, National East, and West to look at paintings.  More than anything else I wanted to look at how different artists apply their brushstrokes.  So, let's start with some historical favorites. I was bowled over by a John Singer Sargent painting at the Freer Gallery titles Breakfast in the Loggia. Wow!  The knots of paint that made up the highlights were amazing.  Though sketchy, they were really convincing.  Also, notable were Whistler's nocturnes.  There were several nocturnes and of course the Peacock Room but on the bottom floor there is a beautiful collection of Whistler's nocturnes of which few were observed; many were done from memory. My favorite aside from all the prints is this one: Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso.  This one I like for the thin brushwork and also the flecks of light. Beautiful!

At the National Gallery East I first looked at the moderns by starting with a Rothko show in the Tower. It was interesting but since most were black I can definitely say I like the ones with color more. The rest of the Meyerhoff collection was beautifully curated in terms of logic and included thematic rooms such as line, gesture, art on art and this is a teachable show.  Too bad it is so far away.  I encourage everyone to see it. Click here to view the information on this show. It is up for another week or so. In that show, my favorite example of brushwork was one like this painting by de Kooning that had action and density.

And also we went to a show of Small French Paintings. (You can click on the side menu to see some of the most famous artists.) I tended to gravitate towards some of the more obscure artists due to their brushwork.  I really enjoyed the works by La Tour who had two self-portraits. The first was very brushy and reminded me a bit of Goya. The second self-portrait reminded me of Eakins' work but the paint was denser. Also, I enjoyed looking at the brushwork in works by Andre Giroux and Jules-Romain Joyant. Of course there were several paintings of dogs that were very entertaining such as A King Charles Spaniel. At the end of the day, we visited with Leonardo, Vermeer...WOW, Van Eyck and Rembrandt.

Now that I have taken you on a tour all over the Smithsonian Museums, let me tell you about classroom and studio work. A few weeks ago I presented my work to fellow Princeton students in my Uncreative Writing class.  I talked about my images and techniques and in the spirit of Rembrandt I also did a painting demonstration this week in Professor Mann's Introduction to Humanities classroom at ACCC.  I painted the lower layers of a value map in earth tones. The student was a great subject as she looked like one of Rembrandt's subjects...perfect....and I gave her the study.

Last weekend I attended a workshop with Robert Stack.  In the image above you will see a peony field painted plein air last summer.  I have always had issues with this painting. I have struggled with the perspective, application of paint, color, etc.  So, it sat in a stack of works that I felt were beyond repair.

Interestingly, Robert did a demonstration where he covered his painting with gouache and watercolor.  I don't mean a thin wash...I mean covered.  The image was peeking through a rather dense layer of paint.  Then, using gouache either white or tinted with color he slowly retrieved the image modifying it as he went. There was a painterly quality now inherent in what was a very weak watercolor. I was a bit shocked as he got started but amazed as the painting progressed.

That being said, I got out my plein air painting and put a layer of gouache tinted with blue in the sky and ochre in the field and began to retrieve the painting from underneath the semi-opaque paint. I am far more satisfied with this painting now. It has a shimmer to it and it feels hazy which was far more indicative of the conditions than the original painting.  To keep the sense of field with few brushstrokes, I borrowed Corot's trick of including flecks of little white flowers here and there in the forefront of the painting.

I have been very busy creating an altered book. This was quite an undertaking. I decided to block the characters (my teacher and I discussed this process) and to prime them out with gesso. This project is the final assignment for my Uncreative Writing class at Princeton. I bought two books (a reverse thesaurus and a children's reader).  I created a new book titled From the Idea to the Word.

You can click on any image in this blog to see a much larger picture.

Cover of From the Idea to the Word
Inside with Pages in Gutted Book
Pages with Gutted Book
Gutted Book
Detail of Pages with One Word Per Page
Detail of the Page Titled Language
I altered the thesaurus creating a deep pocket for the pages of which aside from the frontispiece (a title page of sorts), each page spells a word.  As a whole, the pages make the following statement: You will never think about language the same way again. I promise you. These words were spoken by my teacher Kenny Goldsmith and you know what? As stated a few weeks ago, this promise was certainly kept.  Here are the images of the book closed, open and of some of the pages.  My fellow students are not aware but I will be distributing a page to each student and the teacher allowing them a keepsake and original piece of work from our class together. (I hope they like it....I think they will.)

So, as Princeton winds down I will attend my last Uncreative Writing class on Monday, a seminar on Tuesday as I try to put closure on my research paper.  Hopefully this will open up more studio time.  As always, please come back in a week or two and stay tuned for a complete digital portfolio of my Uncreative Writing pieces as well as more from in and out of the studio.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Weeks 10 and 11 (This Time) Beyond the Studio

Well, it has been an interesting two weeks. I have not been in the studio but instead writing, writing, writing and putting some (towards) finishing touches on my paper. I cannot wait to share the paper with my fellow ACCCers! I am about 3/4 of the way finished my research paper and looking forward to calling it complete. At this point I can already say I have learned a lot and I hope it will serve my colleagues as well.

My class Uncreative Writing is going very well. I am wayyy out of my box and will be presenting some inauthentic writing this week. I am terrible at reading aloud so we shall see how well I do. The last two weeks I have been examining consumerism and annoyances in life through writing. The promise the first day from the instructor was "You will never look at language the same way." Promise fulfilled. In fact, promise fulfilled the first week. I highly recommend Koolhaas' Junkspace...loved it. More to come about that in future weeks as we (sadly) wrap up the class.  Thank you Kenny for a wonderful roller coaster ride!

In terms of art, the last 2 weeks and this coming weekend are about looking. I spent all of last Friday touring galleries in Philadelphia and visited Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Seeing the students in their paint splotched clothes made me proud to wear my badges the way I often do coming from the studio coated in this or that and that is perfectly okay with me.  I looked closely at Bierstadt, Gifford and Eakins and many printmakers too. I hit the point where I had enough to take in and think about.

I spent time last week with two former students and how wonderful it is as a teacher to see your students become your peers before your very eyes. Teaching is very fulfilling but more so when you see the fruits of your labor. Also, I have been working with several students (while on sabbatical) helping them gain entrance to major art schools and many successes to boast of so I will. I am VERY proud of my students.

This weekend I will be in Washington DC. I will be with Academy grads Wanda Chudzinski and Mary Powers-Holt looking at art. What I have found is that you have to know when you have had enough of looking at art so over-saturation does not occur. But, I will be looking for something very specific...the quality of brushstrokes. know what I mean here.

Next week I will report on some new studio work, some more preparation and my first foray into plein air landscape in oils with my friends (and former students). So the brush will be wielded next week and hopefully the results will be good. As I say, if the results are mixed or not great...these we call opportunities to learn.

More next week!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Week 9 at the Studio

First let me say how nice it is to sit here in my studio in Millville surrounded by paintings and works in progress. I am feeling particularly energetic this week. I had a good day in spite of positively miserable weather. I enjoyed my class at Princeton with Kenny Goldsmith this week as we get deeper into the exploration of language and words. Great class…makes me think for sure.

I was in the studio many days this week but when I arrived on Tuesday I realized that I only had panels that were half prepared. So, I decided for a day to focus on exactly that. I worked on finish-priming about 8 panels and pre-priming about 8 more as the small paintings are happening rather fast. You can see the finished panels above as they are in their last state the an imprimatura in place.

While they were drying I set up a still life of some paint tubes (the primary colors) and lit them from one side. In January I did a rather unsuccessful painting of paint tubes and the metal was lost on me. This time I decided to focus, focus, and focus. I did two layers as the last was to modify the shapes, metal and background. Primary Trio (below) came out much, much better. I manged to capture the metallic sensation of my favorite brand of oil paint - Old Holland. As you can see I am very bad about cleaning the tops of my oil paint tubes before putting the caps back on.  I get incredibly impatient when I am ready to paint.

Today I decided to do a vertical panel and focus on the ethereal quality of the atmosphere again but this time in oil. From a photograph, I loosely interpreted a tree, Silhouette, and its surroundings. I used transparent paint for nearly the entire painting. I also used a very limited and muted palette to keep the colors quiet. I also used an Old Holland turquoise color in some of the first strokes as it changed the gray to a blue-gray.

Both of these paintings are 6 X 8 inches. I hope to increase the size of my panels. So, today I took the bold step of calling Cheap Joe's and ordering 10 X 20 inch panels in pursuit of larger landscapes. I hope to find references as I am not prepared to paint oils outside (but itching to paint watercolor plein air for sure).

Next week is very busy as Princeton will occupy Monday and Tuesday. I will also be moving my paper forward (made possible by the input of many kind faculty and friends at ACCC). So, with Easter coming and a visit to my parents in Delaware with John and the pack of three, studio time will be limited to Wednesday and Thursday of next week but as it warms up, the studio will be outdoors! More to come next week as I continue at Princeton, the gym with my brother, the studio for much of the later part of the week progressing rather slowly but surely.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Week 8 at the Studio

What a busy week this has been in spite of spring break for both ACCC and Princeton. Between working out at the gym with my brother who is training for a triathlon to my wonderful afternoons in the studio it has been very full and fulfilling. This is good! It has been a joy to spend time with my brother and his family even though I am far below his level of fitness. Let me step back a minute to last weekend and get to the art.

If you read last week's blog, I noted I was going to be at ACCC's Studio Art Workshop (Painting Mist and Fog in Watercolor) with Barbara Cox. It was an interesting workshop. I made three small studies on scraps of watercolor paper from provided references. (These are above, right, and below.) The gray you see is called Getz Gray made by Cheap Joe's Art Stuff (American Journey brand) and though an opaque color, it is very beautiful. I added a few other subtle colors to achieve that wonderful, wet, misty feeling you get in the morning or on the beach. In the one of just clouds I added some white gouache.

What was really ironic about the workshop was that the weather was horrible. It was a perfect day for mist and fog as the winds rattled the classroom windows and we had thunder and rain in the morning and downpours in the afternoon. As I left campus feeling really good about my little paintings, I noticed that ACCC lost another pine tree; it toppled over onto the area where a new building is to go so I guess it sacrificed itself before being taken down. We lose about one a year due to the short root system. The nice thing is that the weather has cleared but I did not do any plein air painting this week but that is coming soon. Read on...

In the studio I made a watercolor and gouache painting called The Crab Shack (above). The building is gone but years ago this shanty was several yards out in the marshes at Morris Beach on the curve of Jeffers Landing Road in NJ where I used to live and consequently where I met John. (Morris Beach was also the theme of my first one woman show in Philadelphia in 1990 so historically speaking, this place has been very inspiring.) The shanty was a place where the crabbers would rest and get shelter from the sun, rain, and any of the elements. It slowly crumbled with each season and was gone by the time John arrived at the beach.

Recently, John and I have reunited with some of the Morris Beach islanders. In fact, my painting on the landscape project for my class at Princeton was held at a property adjacent to Joe and Marge's homestead (who you see in the Web-based photo show-link below in Weeks 4 & 5). I do plan on returning there to paint plein air as soon as the weather stabilizes even more.

At the studio on Thursday I also did a small 2 hour study of two garlic heads and an onion. This painting was drawn in charcoal (contour only) and then painted with transparent darks and opaque lights. I was careful to soften edges like the master painter Vermeer as I am still exploring how he painted so beautifully. I think this painting is done but I am not sure if the painting of the shanty is. I need to think about that.

I return to the studio tonight for the monthly Third Friday celebration. I expect us to be very busy as the weather has kept everyone away and this evening's gallery walk promises to be absolutely beautiful and crowded. If you have never been to Third Friday in Millville's Glasstown Arts District, give it a try. My studio will be open until 8:30 PM. It is Studio 3 in the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts and I am sure the restaurants, bars, shops and galleries will be bustling.

Next week I return to Princeton on Monday only as we move forward with my Uncreative Writing class. I expect to get my time in at the studio, move my research paper forward towards completion.  I will spend another day with my brother as he prepares for his big race. More next week! Stay tuned.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Week 7 at the Studio

This week was really great. First, the draft of my research paper was critiqued by the administrators of Princeton's McGraw Teaching and Learning Center and my 11 fellow Fellows and the paper was well received. I do have to make some additions and modifications but this has happened every time I publish so onward. I plan to add the final outcomes of my research and finish the paper. Of course, life outside of the studio goes on and Wednesday was devoted to having my taxes done. I have been going to the same place since I was 15 and sat in my lucky chair. Yes, I don't owe. That is a good thing in the context of life!

Once life was out of the way and my paper was put to bed (for a little while anyway) I returned to the studio on Thursday. I decided before starting anything new that I would complete two watercolors that have been half finished for months. I pick them up, do a little bit and set them down for weeks. I am also adding imprimatura to the panels and debating to order a larger size for oil painting.

I completed the Mott's Creek Fleet watercolor (above) by adding the detail. I decided to include the old white branches to provide a foil for the focus which is the fishing boat. I decided to deviate greatly from the photographic reference (as I usually do) and to add color to the sky which in actuality was a single wash and a lucky one at that. I let the paint bleed and move along the distant marshes. I put my signature on it to tell my brain to stop painting.

As many artists know it is not so much about starting painting but more about when to stop or when to simply start again. I have learned that stopping is critical. Also, admitting that a work is not going well, not worth saving, not a failure but an opportunity to learn is really critical. So moral of the story is...know when to fold...and more importantly, know when to stop.

I also had another painting done from a summer scene photograph of cows in a field. I started it in a workshop with noted watercolorist Jim McFarlane. What I like about taking workshops with Jim is the challenges he relays to his students and as a teacher I appreciate his articulation of concepts and his verbal clarity. He is a great teacher and a fantastic artist.

This painting Winter Moon with Duo, was very challenging. Of course my favorite color combination of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna were ever-present. I used white gouache to complete some of the highlights in the sky. It is a quiet, moody piece and I think I am also done with this. I will probably exhibit both watercolors in the upcoming Associate Artists show at RRCA...coming in April, opening is the 3rd Friday in April and I think I will be in great company with some new Associate Artists (some of my most esteemed students).

Tomorrow I will be attending a workshop with Barbara Cox. In the midst of a torrential rain storm our topic will be the painting of mist and fog in watercolor. Barbara is another inspiring teacher who challenges me. If it goes well, watch for the painting here in the blog next week.

Spring break is here for both ACCC (even though I am on sabbatical leave) and Princeton University. So, next week I return to the studio for each afternoon Monday through Friday unless a day is so nice that I paint outside. I have coated several panels with an imprimatura of first raw sienna and then burnt sienna. I was going to Lehman Lake to paint plein air, or Delaware but I think my travel plans over spring break have been dashed so it will be a full week with each morning at the gym and each afternoon in Studio 3 at the Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts in Millville. More to come as I continue to make art! Below are two small pictures of my studio. Forgive the mess but art is happening there!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Week 6 at the Studio

This week can be described as classic "crazy-busy." Though making great progress on my paper for Princeton, my studio days were limited to two because I went to meetings at the college on Thursday and Friday. So I had to really make studio time count! But the good news...the research paper draft has been sent in and will be critiqued on Tuesday night. This is a very big thing off my list (for a while anyway). I have also completed my homework and just have to post it and do my reading for class.

This week I decided to try a portrait. John did not have school on Wednesday so I asked him to come to the studio with me. I asked him to bring a book and be prepared to sit for a few hours. I lit him from the right (the sitter's left) and painted on a panel with an imprimatura of raw sienna. The panel was 9 X 12 inches.

Let me give a little background on this one before I go on. Last semester I took a class with a wonderful professor ~ Professor Tom Hare at Princeton. The class, The Portrait in Text, Paint, and Stone, gave me the opportunity to study in depth a subject that I don't paint or draw ~ the portrait. In fact, the last portrait I painted was back in 1983 in my second year of studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art.

I feel that my seminar with Professor Hare benefited me greatly. I understand a lot more about portraiture, origins, meanings, symbolism, etc. and decided to undertake it as a subject from time to time instead of ignoring it completely as I have for years. John being off from school gave me a subject that I am not only related to but someone I relate to. I feel having a connection with your subject is important.

I did the portrait rather under two hours. I used the classic application of opague lights and transparent darks and for the first time ever in making a portrait, I used my fingers to blend but was careful to preserve my brushstrokes. So, here is my oil portrait (Liquin medium) of John on a primed, cradled panel. I left the ground in spots so it could be seen. After this feeling far more effortless than it was in art school, I may try a portrait of a head and part of the body.

Today I returned to the studio. We got some rather unfortunate news yesterday so John and I are both rather solemn today. The studio building was really quiet. As I was preparing panels I looked out the window and saw the buildings across the street washed in light and I thought, wow, that is very "Edward Hopper." So, with a single cord hanging in a window, I painted a window and a half as a small tribute to a man who could capture a mood like no other. I call the painting To Edward. (I must confess that the other buildings next to it with wide bay windows and flowers and oddities are very intriguing so perhaps these will be future subjects.)

Next week will be busy with school early in the week but I return to the studio Wednesday and hope to progress and continue to paint in a modified direct method in oil. I may get to those two half finished watercolors yet. The weather is also warming up so, soon, it will be plein air time! As always, stay tuned.