Monday, October 05, 2009

Good Things in Nines

Last week was filled with nines.

In the studio: prepped and ready for paint -- NINE little canvases.
I had great fun ordering all sizes in sets of nine -- on sale!

In the workroom: a long term project needing NINE old mailboxes.
Funny how we never throw away the old one. Mike and Dennis have promised theirs!

From daughter's house: hourly updates as Miz Scarlett delivered NINE puppies.
Ptoud parents ,Scarlett and Robert E. Lee, are beautiful, gentle red Tolers.

On the wide front porch: a new wooden swing with NINE slats on the comfy back.
Hanging from a bouncy spring, George Meyer's handiwork will give us hours of relaxing fun.

Surely, there will be updates on these good things in nines.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Keep an Eye on the Ground

I had been cutting grass and clearing vines at my great-grandparents' old house and daughter and I were taking a walk around to plan our next work day. We are often surprised by what we find, but this was a biggie -- our second snake of the season and not a little one. It was curled in a spot of sunshine like a string of sparkling onyx beads. As I stepped closer to get a photo, it stretched its beautiful inches out to a yard and zipped through the undergrowth.

Now, after all the Hours for Watching sunsets and cloud pictures, my attention has been riveted to ground level.

Of course, I'm checking for snakes and critters, but I have been delighted at other finds: more Red Spider Lilies; perfectly ripe bronze scuppernongs under the old arbor; purple bits of wild verbena . . . . The most interesting this week is some shiny round balls tucked in the loamy soil beneath leaves and sticks. . . . Maybe puffballs, but not like any I had seen before.

I've searched for information and I think they are "Earth Stars" (Astraeus hygrometricus.) which pull moisture from the air and sit fat and sassy on star shaped cups to send their spores into the air. If I bring them into the studio, will I have to keep them watered so they won't become hard leathery nuts? Shades of Audrey II!

It seems that I can't get away from celestial observations! But these are good shapes, good colors, good textures to put in the studio. So, until the weather cools and the skinny neighbors have hibernated, I'll be more careful about wearing my boots, I'll not walk through tall grass and and I'll keep an eye on the ground.

iPhone photos
BushStrokes (c) AAB


Friday, September 11, 2009

The Red Spiders Dance

Change is sometimes subtle; sometimes explosive.
Making a mark we don't fully understand.

Seasons do that in their departures and arrivals.
Sometimes subtle; sometimes explosive.

For me, no matter if it is the end or the beginning,
September's change is marked by the day the red spiders dance.

iPhone photo: Red Spider Lilies Surviving the Odds

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dark Clouds with Silver Linings

A few weeks ago, Alyson Stanfield of ArtBizBlog wrote about artists, the economy and "pop-up" galleries. Since reading her post, I have had two opportunities to mention both my experience with storefront or alternative space and Alyson's Blog with her resources for the business of art. Link to Alyson's thoughts about using temporary exhibit space.

The first conversation was in a chance meeting with a newly graduated art and design student. I was pleased to discover that she is interested in promoting other artists and eventually having a gallery, but I was sorry she felt she needed to put that on hold while she earned "real money." Reality says she is probably right. I suggested starting in non-traditional bricks and mortar ways.

The second conversation was in a phone call from an old friend which was full of questions about planning a gallery in today's economy. Words about finding quality work from loyal artists, unique promotion and ethics filled the minutes. As I made the suggestion to find Alyson's Blog as a starting point, her keyboard clicked and she suddenly said, "It's every thing I need!"

I could tell them both many stories about my involvement with "free" or alternative space over the last 40 years:

* a store window mini-exhibit of traditional crafts during a downtown festival;

* a derelict building which offered "no heat, no lights, and no rent" in an effort to clear the building of vagrants (the building was saved, renovated and now houses the art department of a state university;)

* a couple of 10-20 day special exhibits in "For Rent" or "For Sale" properties which needed exposure;

* studio/gallery/teaching space in both old and new buildings with too many vacancies which needed to be occupied (in lieu of rent: regular classes, openings, meetings which 'promoted' the building!)

In most cases, liability, heat and lights were provided by the owner. . . .

My favorite has been a downtown project which involved a permanent transition for six previously unrentable spaces. It was possible with the cooperation of the artists, the City, Federal facade grants, and the property owners. Artists got free rent for one year in exchange for making, showing and/or teaching art, promoting downtown and bringing feet to the street. Shops, restaurants and bars followed the artists and, although there is no more free rent, fifteen years later it is still working.

Art is powerful stuff.

The presence of Art in a studio or gallery, however temporary, has been a win-win for the artists and the properties.
The presence of people who are drawn to Art has made a difference in my communities in really unexpected ways.

Empty storefronts with Art;
ark clouds with silver linings.

BushStrokes (c) AAB
Cloud photos from my iPhone

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Color of the Week: Yellow Happy Chair

Two year old Belle seems to need time out more than most, but she could never quite figure out what she was supposed to do in the chair and how long was long enough. "When can I get down?" became a repetitive whine.
"Do I Have to Sit Here?"

Finally, her Mamma remembered being sent to her room to look under the bed for a better face -- one with a smile would do -- and said, "Until you get a happy face."
"Is This a Good Smile?"

No more punishing time outs! Attitude adjustments are so much easier in the Yellow Happy Chair.
"I'm Happy now!"

I think I need a Yellow Happy Chair.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

iPhone Photos - Belle in Yellow Chair:
"Do I Have to Sit Here?"
"Is This a Good Smile?"
"I'm Happy now!"


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hours for Watching - Spiders

Spiders building webs and unbuilding webs"
When we go to the little summer house, we know we will be as close to nature as if we were living in a tent -- well actually, we do call it a "tent." We are not surprised to find a bird's nest in the book case or a squirrel peeping through the gable vent or even a spider web hanging in a doorway.

It has its charm. It has the Hours for Watching.

A year or so ago, a spider dropped down each day from the ceiling fan to a flowering plant in the center of the dining table. We watched her gentle movements every day for almost a week as we ate or read or played games around the big table. And then one day, visitors came and one of them said, "Oh, you have a spider!" and she quickly swept it away. We were dismayed. We did not see our spider again.

This year in June, another spider found the table. During the night, she built a large web from the lights to chairs to table. Although no one bothered her, somehow she knew when it was time and, each day, she drew in the web leaving none behind.

We found other spiders and other webs and marveled at their habits -- "How did it sail across that space?" -- and their patterns -- "Look at this design!" -- and their colors -- "What is that big black and yellow one writing?"

Watching spiders has been a family activity for many years and night-time spider hunts have quelled the arachnophobia of many a little cousin. Searching for those little reflecting green eyes with a flash-light placed just above the eyebrows makes it hard to remember to be scared. And finding a spider at the end of the flashlight's beam is too just exciting.

In July, Nature Friend magazine published my younger daughter's article "What Lives in Your Yard? How to Hunt for Spiders." I think it's appropriate that her very first published piece is about a tradition for the children (and adults) in our family. I'm proud of her work and delighted that we have had summers with hours for watching - spiders.

BushStrokes (c) AAB
iPhone photos BIG spiders


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quote of the Week: Letting the Other Half Out!

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."

E.L. Doctorow

I spotted this quote while checking on something not related to house renovation nor grandchildren and immediately paired writing with painting -- two of my favorite creative pursuits.

Doctorow suggests that schizophrenia is acceptable, but could it also be that it is a little necessary? I often think I do my best work when "I" am "out of control;" when that "other" self speaks. I sometimes look back at paragraphs or paintings and wonder who strung the words or brushed the paint.

A good thing. Letting the other half out!

BushStrokes (c) AAB
iPhone photo:
Two Halves

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hours for Watching

Time to Watch.
Not watching Time.

Spiders building webs and unbuilding webs.
Children climbing, running, swimming.
Little girls snoozing in my bed.
Cats sleeping.
Birds warning of cats not sleeping.

Hammocks with no sketching.
Swings with no writing.
Porches with no painting.

Shadows lengthening.
Raindrops clinging in last light.
Sunsets spreading across the sky.

My days. The minutes filled with Hours for Watching.

BushStrokes (c) AAB
iPhone photo: ShadowPlay

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Color of the Week: "Birthday"

When 18 month-old Lucy and her Mamma came to my house to live for a while, Belle had not arrived. Now Belle has turned two and Lucy has just become a sparkling four year old and they have moved just five miles away (close enough for regular visits, but in another state!)

We celebrated last week with The Cake which Lucy "visited" each week as she and I grocery shopped together. It was a lovely party with four generations (as usual) of family and friends. Susan and I surprised everyone with {{ fanfare }} The Cake. Lucy loved it and all the girls called out the names of the princesses which paraded across the castle turrets.

Lucy's favorite color is pink, and there was lots of it, but for this birthday, she wanted the blue-green-lavender sea colors of Arial the Mermaid and was delighted with this present.

Lucy was excited and made sure her hat was on just right.

She let Belle wear the tiara -- even if it was backwards.

She quietly opened the birthday cards and looked at the pictures.

She could not believe the presents! "Just what I wanted!"

She blew out the candles. She already knew it was delicious, especially the purple frosting! For a four-year-old, it was a perfect party!

When I tried to select a photo or two for the Color of the Week, I was surprised at the number of impressions which came from just a couple of hours; at how many faces of Lucy there were. As I try to get back in the studio in this quiet house, I must remember that no matter what the subject for painting or writing, there might be another thought . . . another point of view . . . another process . . . another surface . . . another way to see "Birthday."

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Problem with Naked Ladies

Back in March, there were promises for the spring and summer. Daffodils trumpeted warmer days. Wide straps of lily foliage announced where summer bulbs might bloom. Wisps of fragrance led the nose on treasure hunts. Trees began to wake with a slow fuzziness and nubbins hinted of leaves to come.

I carefully marked my calendar with anticipated dates; those regular irregular events which occur until September's Labor Day. Family weekends, art days, alumni activities, and concerts in the park, along with enough vacation weeks and days in the country to make things interesting. Just enough. Gonna be a good summer, I thought.

So in July, when I thought I knew what to expect, I was surprised at the sudden appearance of pink buds at the end of long skinny stems near the edge of the Green. I couldn't remember what should be there. Yet, there they were; right in the middle of summer -- the elegant pink lilies, their wide green foliage discarded days ago. The Naked Ladies.

"But, I have made plans! I have work to do! I have people to see, grandchildren to enjoy, paintings to create . . ." I thought. No matter. I checked the blooms in morning sunlight, in the slanting sunset and under cloudy skies. Like other things which pop up on summer days, they demanded my attention . . . .


Scheduled adventures were interrupted by stops in the Emergency Room. . . .

House projects resulted in a few injuries. . . .

The sunsets took longer or were more glorious or had more color than usual. . . .

NOT ONE could be ignored.

And that is the Problem with Naked Ladies.

BushStrokes (c) AAB


To Fill the Empty Days

Since late March, I have neglected this diary -- even after promising, Dear Blog, to stop ignoring you. I have to agree with my friends Robin and Karen that these pages register the thoughts in my days in unexpected ways. They remind me of who I am. Sometimes, they remind others of who they are. And so . . . I shall begin again to fill the empty days.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What A Day This Would Be

NASCAR is my # 1 passion!

Anonymous, a high school classmate

One of the interesting things about working on a 50th High School reunion is getting to know old classmates again. Some who I loved are not so enticing anymore. Some who I thought were a bit nerdy are now v-e-e-ry interesting. Some seem to be content to just sit on the sidelines. Some have schedules which fill a day book and not just with doctors' appointments! I'm not even going to think where I fit.

When I got this statement in the bio of a former middle school librarian, I was amazed. Just a simple "NASCAR is my #! passion!" Positive and powerful. I wondered if other classmates could speak with such conviction about their passions. Few, I think.

As I looked for a photo to illustrate the quote, I rediscovered the one of VanGull on his perch which looks a little like the beginnings of a painting. There is just something about his expression -- I am who I am. Positive and powerful.

I thought about the combination of the librarian's Passion and the bird's Attitude. What if we all came for the Reunion with a little of each? What a Reunion. What if we all came to the studio with a little of each? What a day this would be.

My reunion blog post is here

Photo: VanGull on his perch.
BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, March 23, 2009

Confirmation of Me

Not many things bring tears to my eyes, but they brimmed over as I listened to the genteel Southern drawl of my friend, Starkey. He was the last to read at the Author's Club annual night at the museum.

Each year, paintings in the Morris Museum of Art become the subject of a poem, a short story, an essay, a little play. With a couple of exceptions, the presentations were based on Edith Caywood's exhibition of narrative interiors. Caywood's paintings -- with floral patterns overwhelming the space and the figures -- have been compared to the story-telling of the best Southern writers, so it was a proper fit. Three readings were based on the same painting which was a delight. The interpretations were poignant, humorous, and clever. It was an entertaining evening.

But it was when Starkey Flythe stood to read that the audience waited. He began to speak his own words about art and us and our relationship to art; or aaht, as he would say.

He talked about the closing of Lascaux and the damage from visitors to the cave paintings -- our presence destroying the very things we revere. He said that it was suggested that one breathe as little as possible during the fifteen allotted minutes in the Arena Chapel; that it is easy to do because the Giotto paintings are breathtaking.

And then he began to talk about Art. The words continued as polished and regular as pearls strung on a chord. Each one perfectly chosen and perfectly spoken. Each one confirming art and life. Somehow, each one a confirmation of me.

Photos: Mamma's azaleas two days ago.

BushStrokes (c) AAB


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Color of the Week: Green

St. Patrick's Day not withstanding, this has been a week of green. The winter blooms have ended and Spring is coming!

This week, I braided the last of the snow-drops, cut away the battered liriope and watched the fig tree get fuzzy.

We wore our green, stood on the street and watched the Parade. We sowed broccoli seeds and watched the green nubbins appear.

We are checking catalogs and planning the garden. We are beginning to talk about the Easter Bunny and colored eggs.

For now, we 'll settle for Green on this day after the Equinox.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fond Memories

I am sometimes reminded of the great opportunities which have come to me across the years. Things I knew at the time were pretty cool, but which usually involved a lot of detail and a lot of work and, at the end, I just moved to the next project.

This week, the reminder was the unexpected death of Will Fahnoe. Will was a good artist and he contributed much to the arts community in our area. And he was my friend.

Twenty years ago, when I moved back "home," Will was one of the first artists I met after I was asked to serve as the Director (volunteer) of the Mayor's Program to Spotlight Local Artists. I visited his studio to select some work to hang in the Mayor's office. I was impressed by the variety of work which he produced in such a tiny space.

Over the next five years, I met and exhibited the work of almost one hundred artists -- from high schoolers to eighty year olds -- who had been recognized in some way outside of our town for their art and most, like Will, I did not know. But, Will was one of the ones whose path began to cross mine and who I could count on for support whenever I needed a group of artists.

When I began to look for participants in Artists Row on Broad Street, he was among the first I called. I knew he had outgrown his small bedroom studio and that one of the five storefronts in the City-sponsored project would be perfect for him. He had a good following of patrons and students, so he could afford the expenses of the rent-free building. He hung some track lights, set up a model stand for Tuesday and Thursday figure drawing classes and hung some paintings -- and some curtains. We had selected buildings which shared a wall, so Will became my neighbor.

For almost ten years, I was involved in the Sister City program -- another opportunity for me. I made my first international trip alone with 19 wooden crates as my personal baggage and experienced Japan for the first time. On my third trip there, I made all the arrangements for six artists and their paintings to go as well. Will was one of the six -- the only male.

As we approached the Atlanta Airport, I realized that I did not have my passport! I asked Will to take responsibility until I could arrive two days later. He handled the chore with good grace, but seemed relieved to give me back the reins. Each of us had a host family and partnered several days with Kansai artists for touring and art discussions. Will's considerable expertise and charm made my job easier.

When we returned, the seven of us planned a show of our Japanese paintings. Will created a delicate drawing for the invitation and painted a large image high on the studio wall -- the contrast of a small pen & ink drawing and a building sized mural being typical of his daily output. His good cheer and jovial laugh rang out during the evening of the opening reception.

Because of Will's death, I have been thinking of other special times in my life. When I returned from a trip to France and was no longer his Artist's Row neighbor, he opened his studio/gallery to me for my show. When I was a guest instructor in France for a group of Canadians, he was again one of six artists who traveled with me. He often greeted me with an insult and a hug -- and that big smile -- whether it had been three days or three months since our last greeting.

Our community gathered in celebration of Will Fahnoe last night. We will miss his drawing skills, his spirited living, his brusque ways, and his gentleness. I will miss his participation in my life and will cherish these fond memories.

My photo of Will Fahnoe on train in Japan. Coincidentally, the train car was #1016; the same as his studio street address at the time.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nita's In My Skirt!

Every so often, I pick up the freebie magazine/ newspapers around town, mostly to catch up on who has the latest creative ideas or what others are doing with their leisure time. Sometimes just to have something to peruse while I am waiting.

Skirt! magazine is my favorite of the monthlies. Not just another entertainment weekly rag, it is geared for women and presents its stuff in clever themes -- This month's issue focuses on Perfect Timing. Its regional coverage is disguised by some local ads and features. The ads are well designed. The copy is smart, sharp and timely -- "Aargh! did I just say that?!" But turns out to be in line with my time.

I wrote last week about the influence of two women and their groups - one in Florida and one in Georgia. Then I read in Nita Leland's blog about her plein air group in Ohio which has been together since 1975. Nita is a very special person who teaches and judges watercolor and collage across the country, yet she finds time to paint in her studio, keep up with her old friends, love a couple of wonderful grandchildren, teach a group of local painters, answer questions of friends and strangers on several email painting lists AND write books and articles. She seems to have Perfect Timing.
So, I was surprised when I picked up this month's issue. I turned to Skirt! publisher, Nikki Hardin's, Browse column about the best books and music! To quote Skirt!, "Synchronicity runs on Universal Time." There I found a little spread on "The New Creative Artist."

Perfect Timing.

Nita's in my Skirt!

Photos: Cover of Skirt! magazine
Browse column featuring Nita Leland's newest book, "The New Creative Artist."

A quote from Skirt!: "­Nita Leland believes that creativity can be learned, and her book is designed to show you how. You don’t have to be a visual artist to have fun with the activities (110+) and give your creative muscles a workout. "
Cover of the book features a painting by Cheryl D. McClure who was one of the six in my French Residency.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, March 16, 2009

Quote of the Day - Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."

I pulled a paragraph from another blog because it spoke to me. Not expecting to use it here, I only noted that it had been quoted by Nelson Mandela and was from writings by Marianne Williamson. (apologies to the blogger.)

This is only part of a paragraph which has great and wonderful thoughts, but I cannot get past this one yet. My inability to reach for 'beyond' is sometimes my nemesis -- perhaps, indeed, my deepest fear.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Pomegranate Award

If I gave out awards -- well, who says I can't? -- I'd give one in honor of the Pomegranate. It's a strange and wonderful fruit which is sometimes difficult to grasp; it should be opened carefully without cutting. The inside is filled with irregular sections of juicy little red seeds which are separated by thin white membranes. Each section's shape is formed by its relationship to the ones next to it. I used the pomegranate as the symbol for a gallery I owned once up a time; I still think it worked! And that's not even getting into the whole Persephone myth and goddess of spring and creativity . . .

To me, artists and their creativity are like this: holding fast to their own seeds of creativity while touching and influencing the shapes of others. And usually in places and ways which are sometimes difficult for others to grasp.

So I think today, I'll just do it. I'll give out The Pomegranate Award. Two of them. To two women and the groups they influence.

I often mention Martha Marshall in my ramblings. She fills her daily blog with links to interesting websites, shares notes on her creative processes, and generously acknowledges other creative folks.

Martha was one of the founding members of BRAVA which was organized
in 2001 as a way to come together for sharing as artists -- inspirations, business, encouragement, exhibition opportunities, ideas and . . . lunch!
They've even held day long sessions to discuss individual and group goals! They say they are "a group of women artists in Florida's Tampa Bay* area, dedicated to the stirring up of the status quo!" Indeed, these women have raised their own levels of excellence in productivity, imagination and creative energies which has resulted in work which is unique to each and exciting for their patrons.

In getting to know Martha, I have learned much about real creativity.

More than twenty-five years ago, I met Nancy Schultz. Soon after, she asked a few women to join her each week to paint outside. "Gasp! this is hot-as-heck Augusta, GA " and this was way before Plein Air Painting was cool. But, a few began to join her in downtown spots and the group "Women on Paper"** began.

The numbers have changed over the years;
some of the faces have come and gone and come again. They have encouraged each other through painter's block, critiqued new work and encouraged new directions. They have donated awards money to watercolor societies and paintings for fund raisers. They have quietly painted the town and made a name for themselves.

Nancy's gentle, yet no-nonsense manner
has guided them through the seasons and through group exhibitions from local venues to the Governor's Mansion. Last month, this group of accomplished painters celebrated with a 20th Anniversary Show. The gallery was filled with family, friends and patrons.

It was a show of work of Women on Paper, but it was a tribute to Nancy.

Loosely organized, faithfully supported art groups are rare. So, to Martha who I met because of the Internet and to Nancy who I met at a local art event and their women, I offer The Pomegranate Award.

*Brandon/Valrico area of Florida, near Tampa -- hence the name "Brava." Founding members include Martha Marshall, Candace Knapp, Margaret Conte, Kim Radatz, Lyla Haggard and Lisa Landsman.
**Women on Paper includes Nancy Schultz, Caroline Swanson, Karen Banker, Lauren Kerbelis, Ingrid Hofer, Lillie Morris, Gail Smith and Frances Wells.

Pomegranates in Burt's Bowl
M. Marshall (l) planning a Day of Art with Friends
N. Schultz (c) and Two - Women on Paper

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Is March 10th!

The bitter cold of the last weeks in February have been chased away. The grass is growing in the warming sun and I have been torn between working on indoor projects and the need for clearing winter debris in the yard.

My bright orange string trimmer and I took a break to enjoy the afternoon with Lucy and Belle. Later I played with the Animoto application which Martha has used so beautifully with her abstract paintings. I had done one or two on my iPhone, so technically, this is not my first. Now, if I can just figure out how to embed it here.

It is hard to believe this is March 10th!

Monday, March 09, 2009

I Miss You

My Dear Blog,

How could I have been away so long? It doesn't seem possible that so many days have gone by without a note from me to you. I must confess: I have been unfaithful. There is another blog in my life which as focused my attention on the 50th Reunion of my High School Class. It lives at 59Musketeers and I visit it often to leave little notes. The affair will be over on May 2; I promise.

You, dear Blog, have a special spot in my heart. As I look back on those weeks when I don't complete the thoughts and entrust them to your care, I do have the notes. Yet somehow, it's not the same. Maybe I can find a way to make it up, to fill in the blanks, to share some photos of special days. I'll try.

You, dear Friend,
--hold my comings and my goings in ways which aren't shared with others.
--accept words and images which reflect my ideas and inspirations even when they are a little strange.
--allow me the simple reporting on the observations of my days.

I miss you.

photo: Cover of 1959 Yearbook
Academy of Richmond County, est. 1784

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, February 09, 2009

Quote of the Week: To Do Our Appointed Work

Consider the lilies. While the lilies do not toil or spin, they do their work, draw up sustenance from the earth, and drink in the dew, rain and sunbeams. So we are to do our appointed work. It we do this, trusting in God, he will supply all our needs.
Matthew 6:28 translation from the People's New Testament

As the daffodils begin to spatter color along the roadside and early white plum blossoms mark fence lines, it seems this scripture from Matthew is a good "quote of the week."

Conversations in the winter of this economy seem to focus on the crises which the world faces. For some, it has meant a major loss of money, home, or job - certainly devastating and worrisome times for them. For others, it is simply the inconvenience of increased prices or products not readily available. For most it is an awareness which will mean a change in how we use the earth's resources, how we learn to use our gifts and how we pay attention to what we have.

It is a time
to consider the lilies of the fields,
to change our conversations,
to push through the fear,
to boost our own creative energies,
to offer our best efforts

It is the best time to do our appointed work.

Photo: Daffodils & peach trees, Trenton, SC -- 02/09/09

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Which Is The Echo?

After noting the quote of the week on January 18th, the phrase "paintings that arise from memories or visual impressions" continued to noodle around in my head. I began to think of how seemingly disconnected parts of my life seem to put themselves together in spite of me.

Last summer, during a visit with Linda Stanley in Florida, we traveled over to see Martha Marshall for a tiny workshop on her techniques and a trip to her favorite art supply store. Working on a surface which was neither canvas nor paper, with pigments and mediums which bloomed, was energizing and Linda and I spent several days back in her studio playing with our new goodies. I loved the depth and texture which I was able to create in "my" square.

Later, needing to meet a deadline for an invitational and wanting something totally new, I decided to try the new ideas and materials. I checked that entries for this show did not need to be my typical style. I gathered supplies and planned for a week of experimentation.

Working in my little house in the country, I had several panels in progress spread across the big table when one of them began to speak and then another echoed. In the red textures circling a golden glow, I felt the experience of Niaux in France -- that heart-pumping anticipation of seeing these particular cave paintings, that frisson of fear when going into the unknown with only a flash light and a guide, the other-world awareness of the images illuminated by a single beam of light in the black rotunda deep in the mountain. The echoing painting did not come from inside the cave --its exciting red brought me out into the sunlight and up to the top of the mountain where the wind blows fiercely, the bones of old trees refuse to give up, and the view is 360 degrees.

That day near the Pyrenees had been a glorious day and there are things in the paintings which I still don't understand, but which I know belong. So I put the two pieces together and hung them as one.

But wait, there is more . . . . In October, as I walked through the woods to my sister's house, I came upon a little sweet gum tree, its glorious leaves shining like stars in the late fall day. It seemed to come from the echoing half of the Niaux Diptych! How could that be? I was stunned. It was as if I had found my name on a canvas I didn't know I had painted. Too weird. The painting which was created with the memory of France seemed to be echoed by the Georgia countryside! Or did the autumn Georgia countryside inform my impressions on that spring day in France.

Memories, experiences, images, and techniques continue to cross over in my mind. On my best days and in my best creative efforts, I don't know which is the echo.

My Square
Niaux: Out and In
Red Sweet Gum

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Quote of the Week: Without the Continuing Quest

The process of change, the hoped-for-growth, add joy to the act of painting because, without the continuing quest for knowledge and increased vision and greater comprehension, painting can become a deadly vacuum, a routine of assembly-line-like production."

Photo: Pay Close Attention to the Chorus of Santas

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Friday, January 30, 2009

HotArt in Hotlanta: SUNDAY

On Sunday morning, I packed and we straightened the house. While we read the paper and perused the brochures collected over the weekend, we talked. Conversation over good coffee and a blue jug of daffodils quickly becomes more than just chit-chat and so, we touched on life at our decades, focused on what is really important to happiness and wondered how to grab more of every day. We were glad we had not succumbed to the temptation to fill the time with one more gallery. Kembra had opened her home to her high school buddy and, with great graciousness, welcomed two strangers as well. Her straight forward approach to life was a great foil for our artists' conversations.

Soon it was my time to leave. Kembra and Linda dropped me at the bus station. They returned to the little comfortable house and I traveled home. I was happy to see the little ones and my daughters; but, oh, so glad for this very special time to see, absorb, discuss and enjoy HotArt in Hotlanta.

And so ended Sunday. . . .

BushStrokes (c) AAB

HotArt in Hotlanta: SATURDAY

Appointments for Kembra and Karen meant our schedule started early -- and in three vehicles! We arrived at the busy Buckhead neighborhood which houses the Lagerquist Gallery and could feel the creative energy as we rode past. Even on a Saturday morning, there was a buzz on the street of former homes now converted to interesting businesses, shops and restaurants.

As is the custom at Lagerquist, the door was opened for us and we were greeted and made welcome. Our friend Karen (Jacobs) has been represented by Evelyn Lagerquist and Kay Lagerquist Bragg for a number of years and it was her show which we had come to see. Her work was mostly in the front gallery, the large canvases filling the walls.

Linda, Kembra and I wandered through the three story space, noted the lovely garden views out the windows and spotted more of Karen's paintings while she handled a little business with her gallery team concerning inventory and sales. Karen's work is among the best and we could have stayed quite a while looking at each piece: studying compositions, surface textures and color subtleties; but after a photo op, we were off for more adventure.

We located the Trinity Gallery which is now The Alan Avery Art Company and were overwhelmed by what we found -- as we had been yesterday at the new Lowe Gallery and which I forgot to mention. The staff was busy, yet warm and welcoming. They knew we had come to look and also knew that we were probably not buyers (they were quick!) The contemporary feel to the space was enhanced by excellent work in many genres. And the room of exquisite sculptures by Frederick West was breathtaking. They told us not to miss the ArtHouse and to look for the Chuck Close and Robert Rauschenberg paintings and the large collection of West sculptures.

We lunched VERY well at BRIO to celebrate Karen's show. Kembra departed for her appointment as we said our good byes to Karen who was driving back to Birmingham to prepare for her upcoming retrospective. Linda and I headed for the ArtHouse with our tickets in hand. We had learned that there were more than enough rooms for the 28 members of the Atlanta Gallery Association to have a space, so we were excited about seeing what each one considered their best.

As we crossed the lawn to the "Pink House," the tall trees swayed gently and the sounds of fabulous piano music floated on the breeze. The house itself deserves its own visit (not the decorator show house kind) with its beautiful windows and open spaces; its painted walls and contemporary bathrooms and its wine cellar which is fit for any soireƩ. But to see a Warhol sketch next to a bathroom and the Rauschenberg in the breakfast room slows the step and stops the eye.

Tew Galleries' Corky Davis was in the house for the afternoon and continued to pop up in the rooms we were viewing. At one point, he found us excitedly taking pictures of the room where we had found one of Karen's paintings! It was in small suite with a large arch connecting the bedroom and an adjoining the bath (with a sunken tub and a fireplace) which opened onto a rooftop terrace. It was a perfect place for the long narrow painting.

At the top of the house, we decided we could just stay: there was a marvelous studio with kiln and excellent pottery and skylights with spaces for easels and long, lovely tables and benches for projects in the works and . . . and . . . . A kitchen and a perfect little suite of rooms truly made it an artist's hideaway. Finally, we wandered back through our favorite spaces and listened to the music once more. It was time to leave.

Linda and I then took some time to stroll through shops in the tiny square in Decatur before heading back to home base and a supper of odds and ends. We talked a little about our collaboration for a future show, wondered how we might pull it off with the miles between us and finished the evening with random conversation about what we had seen.

And so ended Saturday. . . .

Evelyn and Karen @ Lagerquist
Close-up of Karen's painting at ArtHouse
2 views of the Suite at Art House showing Karen's painting near the carved armoire

BushStrokes (c) AAB