The Question is….?????

The feline world knows how to judge a show!

Submitted three paintings to Medford Arts Centers’ annual works on paper show.  One painting was large, a combination watercolor/pastel, and a favorite of mine.  (see my blog http://wp.me/phLVE-1K )   The other one a simple winter watercolor. My third submission was an extremely loose watercolor that I had embellished with white India Ink, producing a sort of batik look. While I felt these two were fine examples of my work, they did not resonate with me as much as my lovely “My Little Chickadee”.  Of course the two smaller pieces were juried in, and My Little Chickadee came back to hang in it’s place of personal honor over the fireplace.  I was thrilled to have two paintings in the show, but participating in these shows always leave unanswered questions.

This happened last year.  Submitting two paintings that I considered strong, the third was a hastily framed study that I happened to like better than the final painting for which it was created.  While they were all jured into the show, the “study” won an honorable mention.  Go figure.

I’ve talked to other artists about this phenomomen.  We know art is subjective.  A favorite phrase is “One Day, One Judge”.  It’s not like math where one and one make two, or English, where there are rules for conjugating verbs. Paintings can be rejected from one show, only to win First Place in another.   We’ve all had it happen.  While talking with another artist about this conundrum, she offerred: “Perhaps we’re the ones with bad taste.”

Went to a cat show once.  When a judge announced the placement of the cat, it was held in the air and a comment given.  “This cat shows great body condition and a beautiful coat.  Along with it’s beautiful expression, this is my Best in Show.”  I loved the responsibility the judges took, and the care in which words were chosen.  All placements were accompanied by a statement about the animal followed by:  “This is my First/Second/Third, etc. place cat.”  The owners of these animals who spent their time and money on these shows, could, in some way, understand why this particular judge chose this particular cat for this particular ribbon.  Owners were given something to be proud of, and disagree or agree with the judge, those who placed second, third and so on, knew why the first place cat placed first.

Could the art world possibly change to let the artist in on the process of jurying?  I find it strange that the art world does not accept change very easily.  (I think they’d still be requiring slides for jurying national shows if film hadn’t become so hard to come by).  After all, the art world is inherently filled with creative people. Why are they still doing things the same way they always do?

Creating art is deeply personal.  The jury process always leaves us wondering. While most jurors write a statement for the booklet given out at the shows, it’s usually something along the lines of –I was impressed with the large amount of talent, it was hard to choose, those of you not selected, keep working at it, blah, blah, blah.  Once in a while I’ve heard a judge discuss their choices at the reception.  That’s nice.  Would it be too difficult for jurors to justify their choices?  Too much work to give an artist a reason why their work wasn’t accepted?  Could a simple check list work?   Maybe they could go the other way and at least talk about their choices for the winners.  Like the feline judge….”I chose this painting as my Best in Show because…….”

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Feeding the HeART II

I used this phrase with some friends the other night.  And the question came up, “How do you know how to feed your heart? How do you find your heart flame?”

For me there’s a simple question to ask.  What would you do for free?  What would you work at, even if you didn’t get paid?  Once you identify it, find a way to do it.  No, you don’t need to quit your job to find your heart flame.  Volunteer, observe, push, pull or just start reading about your passion.  Somehow, someway, get involved.  You’ll be surprised at the synchronicity.

Now if I could just find a job riding horses while I painted.

Feeding the HeART

From my sketches while in Sarasota, Florida on vacation.

This year’s resolution was to feed my heart…..or basically my art.  So everyday so far, I have made a concentrated effort to do at least one thing that nourishes my gift.  For a while I was recording these daily art accomplishments.  It helped to stay focused and I have always enjoyed making physical marks on paper.

My last entry was February 6th.  It says “Wrote blog about framing”.  Thankfully, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped the feeding program.  I’ve had several commissions, gained a new student, re-established my drawing group, framed a bunch of paintings, and most important of all,  I have painted.  With precision, with abandon.  With a magnificent #16 Kolinsky sable brush that holds a wealth of water and comes to the most beautiful point imaginable. My husband gave me this decadent instrument for my last birthday.  It’s nicknamed “The Butterbrush”.  Perhaps this abundance of heART happy happenings is the result of coincidence, or perhaps it’s the result of my daily feedings.  Or my gratitude for my gift.

Hard to explain the joy of putting paint on the paper.  It starts with picking up the paint with The Butterbrush. Swirling it into the fresh paint. The luscious look of  mingling, spreading and covering.  The sparkle left behind when leaving a touch of white around a vibrant deep blue.  But joy it is.  And my heART is happy.  I can highly recommend regular feeding of the heART, in whatever passion you pursue.

Patience and Gratitude

Can you guess the word? Perhaps your suggestions will give me some more words to paint.

I’m a pretty prolific painter, but sometimes I just can’t “get” it.  I’ve got two of those on my white board now.

Several years ago, a sweet friend (I consider her a twin soul) asked for my help.  She wanted me to paint several paintings to represent several words.  She enthusiastically left it up to me – whatever I wanted.  Think that might have been the death knell.  And so it went on my white board.

Yes, I know white boards are old-fashioned in today’s technological society.  But it works for me, specifically for my Studio.  I keep my projects, framing, purchasing, ideas, etc. next to my computer.  I see it every day.  It gets jumbled and smudged.  These two projects have survied the erasures of many projects above and below them.   About six months ago, I moved them to the top of the list.  The white board sits next to my computer.  I am reminded everyday of these long overdue projects.  Several ideas swirled around for the word project and several ideas came and went.  Even tried to “fit” some of the paintings in the boxes (another subject altogether) into this amorphous project.  But nothing felt right.  So these two projects became a hangnail.  I basically ignored them, but when they became smeared or partially erased, I’d just touch them up, be annoyed that I hadn’t solved them, and try to continue to ignore them.

Yesterday morning while talking with my sister (another twin soul), I was telling her my friend was coming for dinner next weekend.  Her name is always accompanied by my gratitude.  My friend shared an amazing gift during a particularly difficult time in my life. There’s no doubt she saved the life of a loved one.  My sister is all too aware of the story, and we both again reiterated how blessed we felt from her help. The hairs on my arm raised and my energy rose. Suddenly I knew what I was going to do for the project.  It was so simple, so sweet, so right.  I blurted out my idea to my sister, who immediately starting running on with even more ideas.

We hung up quickly as I was torqued to paint.  My studio was a frenzy for a bit, no planning, no prep.  The energy had taken over.  It took me until about the third painting to get something that resembled what was in my mind.  But that third painting was sweet and sang to my soul. I smiled.  I now found the synchronicity kicking in.  I had a million ideas, and the universe was sending me more.  The hangnail had become a driving force.

There are four paintings for this project on my clips. (where the paintings go to be photographed).  And, I will probably do another when I finish this blog.  What changed?  Did the gratitude play a part?  Or was it just it’s time had come?  And, to JD, who is still waiting for his painting, all I can say is….. patience.

When my friend comes to share our home, I’ll be extremely grateful to be able to share the paintings!  As this is an ongoing project, the picture above is just a peak at one painting.  Can you guess the word?

Inspiration?

Just back from 12 days in Sarasota, Florida.  The weather was outstanding, temperatures in the mid 70s to 80s.  Considering our busy schedule, I was surprised to count 5 sketches and 11 watercolor studies.  I must have been inspired.

But what exactly was it that was so inspiring?  The colors in Sarasota are definitely different from the drab grey Jersey winter.  Flowers in bloom accented by green grass.  Maybe the  weather coupled with the sunshine.  Balmy breezes, record-breaking temperatures allowed days spent on the white sand looking at the turquoise water. The absence of an alarm clock or schedule.  Long talks and laughing with my husband.  Morning coffee viewing the small and peaceful lake.  An osprey flew across the lake, skimming the water with his chest, fluffing itself dry as it continued on.  The roseate spoonbill (it’s actually pink) flying right at us.  The excitement of the polo game – I’m not even sure polo is played in New Jersey.  Dining on fresh fish with views of the bay.  Brousing through my favorite art store.  Everyone dresses so colorfully.  Gorgeous sunsets that people actually took the time to watch.  So, what inspires you?

While I always love to paint, and can find inspiration in the bottom of a coffee cup, I’m feeling refreshed, and inspired.  The well is filled.  The studio is beckoning, the paper for my next commission is stretched and the joy is calling.  Let the painting begin.