Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Color Between the Lines: True Value.

A couple of years ago, Georges Rouault was the subject of my BioGem on his birthday, May 27th. There is something about Rouault's work which speaks to me and today, I was able to see another of his paintings at an area museum. I am reminded of my grandmother and hours with coloring books. I get the feeling of the "orgy of colors" through church windows. I sense the honesty in simple shapes of ordinary things. In my short essay, I wrote that he used
arbitrary color choices, distortions of form, and off-kilter perspective with a little more. He chose religious themes in keeping with his deep Christian faith and social themes which reflected the human conditions near his studio in Paris. He gave his ordinary subjects a soul and expressed profound emotions about them which required a personal response from the viewer. He used confining, harsh black outlines and bold shapes of luminous, thick color which gave his work a monumental, yet child-like, quality.

This week, one of Michael Kimmelman's columns in the NYTimes was about Rouault. Whenever I read Kimmerman's writing, I learn something new, gain a new perspective or realize that "Hey, I knew that!" This week in
Revisiting Rouault's Stained Glass World, he gave us more than just a review of the gallery show, "Georges Rouault: Judges, Clowns and Whores." He gave us a little lyrical prose. His phrases sing as he discusses the work while mine stodgily march across the page. He wrote about "the luminosity of his (Rouault's) palette and the awkward elegance of his line" and that Rouault. . .
never denied the obvious connection between the thick black outlines in his paintings and the leaded church windows of medieval stained glass that he helped to restore. Those outlines flattened and broke up his work into fissures and shards of glowing color (deep purples, reds and blues) against a generally gloomy background.
Kimmelman related the disastrous results of Rouault's relationship with his dealer Vollard, the court decision on artists' property rights, and his burning of over 300 unfinished paintings.

And in the end, Kimmelman displayed an awkward elegance of line as well. He closed his column with "The market puts a price tag on art, but its true value has nothing to do with money: that was Rouault’s lesson.

It’s not a bad one for today."

The color between the lines: True Value.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Last month, I took this photo as my son-in-law left for Afghanistan with South Carolina's National Guard.

When he returns, Lucy will be almost three, a new baby will celebrate her first birthday and their mother will be relieved. They, like so many others, will have to learn all about each other again.

I remember the days when MY father was away during WWII. I remember when he returned, uninjured. He never forgot the war, nor did he let us forget, but he carried the people of Germany and France in his heart for the rest of his life.

I am grateful for the men and women who do this scary job with dignity and pride and for those families whose lives are forever changed.

And I pray for this father's safe return.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Light in My Morning Corner

My morning corner has been invaded! I do get distracted, but what fun.

This chair is too-oo-oo big!

What's over there?
Photos of kitties and light and shadow are hard to capture. I don't like to use the flash to get these great contrasts, but little ones move quickly.

Stay out of my sunbeam!!

I think I'm on the wrong side of the fishing line.

Hello, baby kitty.

There are five babies who have now learned to defend themselves against the hugs. Soon they will be going to other homes.

I will miss the tumbling, playful invasion of my morning corner. It lights my day like the sunbeams

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Big Word is "WOW!"

It's been a while since my colors haven't come in professional quality and paintings were not properly framed, but now this finger painted watercolor has been on my refrigerator for two months. There are crayons and baby kittens under the dining table, stickers on the French doors to the living room and finger prints 'hugged' onto my knees. If you've been reading along, you know that there is a not quite two-year old in residence.

Recently both Martha and Nita wrote about the little artists in their families. Nita mentioned the unexpected directions a four-year old takes -- not always what you think. Martha wrote about the inspiration found in a four-year old's painting and that the "four-year old" is now headed to college for a design career. My little artist and her Mamma used fingers on semi-moist glitter-filled watercolor pans for this painting -- an exploration which included feeling, tasting and smelling.

So, I thought about the effect of little children on artists' observations, thought processes and studios. I decided it is the freedom, the excitement and the discovery. It's the freedom to play, to be joyous, to be silly and child-like. It's the excitement of new powers of observation so that suddenly directions are different. It's the discovery of color, dirt, bugs, light, big trucks, ants, texture, flowers, water, water, and what can be done with water . . . all of which leads to exploration of new processes, new subjects, new points of view. It's the WOW! of every minute of the day.

When I left the house this morning, there was a painting session going on in the dining room. I wondered whether there would be a new "masterpiece" at the end of the day. When I returned, it was on the mantel. WOW!

I recommend that artists occasionally borrow a two year old or maybe a four year old.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Colors of the Day: Green and Gold

This is the season when spring colors give way to hot summer, students don caps and gowns and families join together to celebrate milestones in crowded arenas. We haven't had a high school graduate for a while, but this year there are my nieces (Michelle and Lily) and a cousin's daughter, Tiffany.

Yesterday, we celebrated with school's gold and green at a family party for Michelle. (Lily will graduate next weekend in South Carolina.) Michelle's favorite part was the presents. Lucy had worn her party outfit and loved the balloons, but her favorite part was the special diploma cake.

After lunch, everyone loaded the cars and headed to the arena where they joined other cousins and heard Tiffany give the salutatory address. There were tears of relief and joy along with anticipation for the next steps.

We DO know that when their next milestones come for these three girls, the colors might be different, but the family will be there to congratulate and encourage. It's what families do.

(Poppies, like our grandmother used to grow, line the walk at my sister's house. A green and gold send-off for her daughter.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sight Recognition

When I first saw Dan Flavin's light installations, I was reminded of . . . . well, I wasn't sure of what. I just knew there was something familiar about it.
This image is at

Last week, from out of the usually irreverent comments by Sparky Donatello in his blog, a light came on. He had posted a photo of "Just the late afternoon sun hitting the wall of the building across from our back door. . . ." He said it reminded him of Dan Flavin. Well, me too!

Suddenly, I thought back to my first exposure to Flavin and I knew why it was so familiar, yet not so familiar. I was reminded of . . . the way the morning sun explodes through the cracks high in the walls and lights unexpected things at my old summer cottage. I just couldn't get there from here.

It's one of my favorite parts about staying there overnight -- the surprising slices of that clear, bright light. The kind of light which Dan Flavin loves.

Sometimes it takes other eyes to recognize what is beyond what we are seeing.

More about Dan Flavin at
Sparky's Blog at

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Morning notes: The black and yellow book

Most mornings, I take a final cup of coffee to this corner of my dining room. The painting and 'stuff' on the table top changes with the season or my mood. The sun filters in through the bare limbs or narrow leaves of the tree outside. I sit and check my schedule, plan a blog entry or a painting or read and sing to Lucy (an almost daily event.)

This week, I've given some thought to the 'black and yellow book.' Last year, I had written that I was "Disappointed that I will not see my name on one of those black and yellow books. Annoyed that I let this become so important." ( see Endings and Beginnings) Now, I am surprised that I had put it behind me so well that I didn't even think about it's possible release date. I was not prepared to find it on the shelves of my favorite bookstore.

I pulled it down and sat in a big chair to glance through the pages. The author is a textbook writer/publisher. He has been a newspaper art critic and has a Masters in both teaching and English. There was nothing surprising, it fit the formula -- a formula which I could not seem to get. It will sell well.

Mostly though, I have thought about the differences in what I had envisioned for "my" book and the one I held in my hands. I think the difference is in approach.
As an artist, teacher, art judge and sometime writer, my presentation of art history has been related to art techniques and colored by a degree in religion. I have tried to show art in history in relation to art today and art makers in relation to the world around them. And . . . I want the contribution of women to be important. I think somewhere there might be a need for my kind of book. It just won't be black and yellow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Knowing Who Shares the Path

Mamma said family had just gathered for two other occasions and would be together again for the cousins' graduations and that we didn't need a big Mother's Day dinner this year. So she came to our house where, although there were just five of us, there were four generations around our table for Sunday dinner.

In our family, we are aware of generations. And even when we don't see them often, we care about the cousins who fill the countryside. Occasionally, we gather on hot porches in summer and warm rooms in winter to welcome newlyweds and new babies who have the family nose or hair color or long legs. We visit cemeteries and pause to read headstones from the past and to remember the long deceased and their influences on the family. We return to church "homecomings" for dinner on the grounds and catch up on latest family news. We have no doubt that those who share this path are both who we are and who we will become.

As artists, we forget to look at our own "history." We don't understand how we got where we are or even how each piece connects to create a " body of work." In answering questions about influences, we blithely name one or two well-known names, but we don't really know what the influence is. In thinking about experiences, we realize that we have not let them into our work. In wondering about other artists, we forget about bits of their techniques which creep into our own. In searching for our own identities, we need to be reminded of the generations around us.

Finding a personal path as an artist is sometimes as simple and as obscure as this -- knowing who shares the path -- the influences, the experiences and the shared bits of artistic DNA. Then we will have no doubt about both who we are and who we can become.

A note about today's photos: (LaLa top left; Lucy, lower right) In April at "Homecoming," my grandchild explored the small country church which my mother joined more than 80 years ago. She touched the windows, the altar and the organ very carefully as if marking her place in history.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Random Images

At a time when the landscape and sky are arguing over whose color is best and blossoms are tumbling from porch boxes and little girls dresses come in 52 flavors, I thought I should share images these as well.

They were all taken on the same day, but within a 30 mile radius of each other.

My brain must have been in a strange place!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Celebrating a Blog

For some time now I have been enjoying the blog of Britt-Arnhild at House in the Woods -- a gentle blog about art (books, flowers, sketches), faith and family in Norway.
This year, to commemorate her milestone of 500 posts since January 2005, she decreed May 10 as Caring Bloggers Day. She asked her community of bloggers to post a rose on that day.

So here are mine.
One is a hot-house rose.
The other a wild Cherokee Rose.

You can read more about this at Caring Bloggers Rose Day, May 10, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Chance Remarks

It was one of those phone calls which comes after a strange number shows up on the caller ID with no message, then a message with no real identification, just a guess on my part of who "Fred" is, and finally a real connection and a lovely time of catching up.

Fred was a high school student with my daughters more than 20 years ago. He had a little backyard frame shop and he assembled the chops I ordered from my wholesaler. It was a good deal for me and for him.

Now Fred has been painting. In spite of some teachers and a few family members who were discouraging, he travels and sells his work across the South in weekend festivals. He says he has a couple of my small paintings hanging in his house as a reminder that I was the first person to tell him that he could do anything he wanted to do. He seems happy.

Chance remarks of encouragement echoing through decades. Oh, my!

What chance remark will echo with Lucy for the next twenty years?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Construction Sites

Sometime in April, a freaky wind smashed the top of the trellis. Its bones were left hanging precariously in the almost bare vines of the Lady Banksia rose. I had built it some years ago with the boards from a temporary wheel chair ramp which my neighbors had constructed for my husband to use for a few weeks before he died. I probably didn't do a very good job, but it worked. I dreaded the chore of repairing it; I had repaired it once before when a car ran into it.

I did what I usually do it situations like this. I procrastinated. After all, it would soon be time for the rose to bloom and then it would need to be pruned and . . . .

So, now it has bloomed.
It was spectacular.

I have cut away much of the dead growth and have begun to trim as little as possible to keep from totally destroying the main growth, but enough to reconstruct the supports from beneath. It will not be easy, but this time I will have the help of two daughters and Lucy.

I will use Patrick Dougherty's sculpture as inspiration.

It promises to be spectacular again next spring,

Dome of Sculpture at Bluffton, SC. More about Daugherty's sculpture at The Stolen Day-- Part II -- April 2007 archive

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Morris and Whiteside & Larusso

An email from Morris and Whiteside and Red Piano Galleries arrived this week with an invitation to view the works of Joseph Larusso which have recently been put online.

I had been intrigued by his work when visiting the gallery last month. It has an old-fashioned feeling about it and I was curious about his age. I had remembered to search the Internet for Larusso when I returned home. I was pleased to learn more. He was born in 1966 as was my oldest daughter -- veritable babes!

The subjects, the compositions and the palette choices make it seem as if each image came from Larusso's grandmother's photo album. And each one draws the viewer toward its unique story.

While many of the paintings throughout the galleries are textured with juicy applications of paint and filled with light and color, Larusso's surfaces are smooth, yet layered, and seemingly glazed with sepia. His drawing skills give credibility to his patterning and the position and language of his figures add mystery to the story. The results are modern, yet ancient. An interesting combination.

The email this week was a nice reminder of a pleasant morning.

My blog entry at has more on my visit to Morris and Whiteside and the Red Piano Galleries.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Aargh! I have no style!

During some of my recent sporadic blog reading, I discovered that a friend has given some categories to the art blogs she reads. I was surprised to see that I was not listed by the style of my painting as the abstract artists, nor the sculptors, nor the encaustic waxers were. I thought about that. As a painter of forty years, I found that it bothered me a little.

Often, it takes a little jolt to make me stop to make an 'observance" and I realized that my blog is not about my painting process, my techniques, my marketing, my teaching, my writing, my family . . . . It's about all of that. It's about observing how the parts of my life overlap, merge, sabotage, overwhelm . . . .

At another time, my friend has written, ". . .don't forget Annette's blog with insightful relationships between life and art as only she can tell it." My friend has also said that my take on things is different -- "like a breath of fresh air."

And so, I look at my blog a little differently and am pleased to be in a category of "Observances" at