Monday, August 31, 2009

Although I'm not in my studio as much as I'd like to be, I am still wrapped up in the process of assembling from old pieces of junk. I've always enjoyed saving things from the trash bin and have amassed quite a collection of stuff that most people would definitely have thrown away. Luckily I have a very generous work space and can afford to not be very choosy about what I keep. Surely at some point this will catch up with me, but I always imagine I'll find some use for those old bamboo blinds, wooden (and beautifully stained pink) strawberry containers, all sorts of recycled papers, bits of fabric from old curtains and clothes. I feel a great deal of satisfaction when the "junk" can be somehow incorporated into a piece of what I call art.

So the wooden pieces continue to emerge and I seem to have plenty of materials that beg to be finally put to use. I may soon be ready to bring out the paints and brushes, but for now I am happily working.

Barbara Bartlett

Friday, August 28, 2009

Art & Food Intersect

A treat for our art group meeting today.

Carol Egbert

Clock People in Colored Pencil

Cynthia Emerlye:
A decade ago there was a period when I worked exclusively in colored pencil. I like the control one has with this medium and the precise detail that can be achieved. It is more difficult to lay down large areas of color, however, and when I began to do larger work I found it unbearably slow. (Strangely, it hadn't occurred to me to use another medium as an underpainting.) My hands would cramp up after hours of penciling. So eventually I switched to watercolor for my illustrations.

Today I use mediums more interchangeably. Although I haven't tried it, I am fascinated by K.Y.Craft's method of using watercolor as a base for oil painting. She applies a watercolor underpainting to heavy paper or canvas, then sprays it with acrylic to make it waterproof, over which she paints her very detailed work in oil. This seems like a great way to cut down the time needed to illustrate using oil.

Likewise, I now like to mix my mediums, not only to save time and effort, but because I can often get a more elegant look. Watercolor is a great base for the detail of colored pencil. Pastel adds a dreamy look to watercolor and smooths out its roughness. Of course, watercolor washes added to or underneath india ink has been a staple of illustrators for centuries.
The paintings shown here are all from my colored pencil period.

"Clock Face," shown above, is one of my favorite colored pencil paintings, done several years ago. She looks much better in person (as most colored pencil does) and hangs in my bedroom, watching me as I sleep. She is one of several clock people. Back then I was fascinated by clocks and time. I was in my forties and suddenly "Carpe Diem" had become relevant!

I was beginning menopause as well. "Eve Everywoman," below, is a meditation on the mystery, mythology, and miraculous nature of the feminine body. This is a larger work which, again, was more difficult in colored pencil than it needed to have been had I mixed media. Nevertheless, I am happy with her.

These four represent works or a more visionary nature, a subject I would like to return to. I have always been fascinated with mythology, fantasy, and symbolism. Must do more of this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Dark Day on Locust Creek

A few days ago, we were back painting at the Locust Creek swimming hole and it was a misty, gloomy morning. Unlike our first session there, everything looked to be made of camouflage colors--and so did my painting! I took it back into the studio and used my reference photos to complete the painting, punching up the contrast and toning down the greens. Below is the finished product....

Swimming Hole at Locust Creek
12" x 18"

There was nothing I could do to alter the basic composition which I judged to be only fair--a bit lop sided. But the more I've looked at it, the more I like it. Asymmetrical and interesting is now how I think of it! Below is my reference photo from that day. You can see that I eliminated the foliage in the foreground and added the rock instead.

Stroking the Artist Ego

Several years ago I came across some graffiti on a Sydney street that went something like "The artist must be will willing to stand naked on a stage." This impressed me at the time as being very true, and when I held an Artist Reception for my current show on Sunday, it once again seemed so relevant.

It's wonderful to hang a body of work after it has been waiting in the studio for months, maybe years. It looks different somehow, more professional, and hopefully seems to relay something as a whole rather than just a bunch of individual pieces. There can be a sense of culmination of a great deal of effort and emotional input.

But there is a darker side to this exercise too. It can feel suddenly quite vulnerable to open myself to the opinions of others. I know that the work may not have meaning for others and it certainly doesn't "fit" with more traditional definitions of what art might be. There is risk involved, exhilarating but also a bit scary. So it was with many varied emotions that I invited friends to view my work.

I felt so grateful for the warm and positive feedback I received. It was delightful to share the work with others and to know that the work is out in the world. And how happy I was that people actually showed up! The artist ego is tough and fragile at the same time, and it feels good to be "stroked" and recognized.

Barbara Bartlett

Monday, August 24, 2009

Anne Dean Featured Artist at Sculpturefest

At long last the Heron is installed at the Woodstock Sculpturefest. After three years of working on this piece a week here and a week there, it feels good to see it finally standing upright on its pedestal. As a featured artist this year, I also will have other sculptures at the Sculpture Park.

Sept 5 - Oct 15 Sculpturefest: Featured artist Anne Dean
An annual show of outdoor sculpture featuring
New England Sculptors held each year during foliage season in Woodstock, Vermont.

Opening Reception
September 5, 2009,
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Prosper Road, Woodstock, VT
Open daily from dawn to dusk

Anne Dean

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gearing Up to Paint and Sew

Studio Update for Cynthia Emerlye:
It looks like a busy holiday season is ahead this year. I am woefully behind, however, except in kirigami inventory. I was very ill last year and fell behind in everything. Now I'm running uphill! Here's a report (mostly to organize my own thinking) on what's up for Emerlye Arts:
  • Cards: I have now completed (finally) the updates to all my card collections. This week I will be listing new ones in my online shops. Look for them in my EmerlyeArts shops on Etsy and 1000Markets. I hope to have a new catalog put together soon. Then I will go on some selling road trips.
  • Custom Work: I am finishing up sketches for a tattoo design. After that I won't be taking custom orders for a while. Too busy.
  • Coloring Pages: Moving ahead with adult coloring pages - I have enough designs now and am just pondering what paper to print on and how to package them.
  • Kirigami: Enough kirigami for now. I have a hundred in reserve and my family is tired of having them all over the place. My daughter saw me cutting one the other night and said, "Enough with the Kirigami, Mom. I'm sick of it. Do some painting FGS." I'm taking the hint.
  • Story Portraits: I want to do some bigger illustration projects. A gallery is interested in my story portraits (designs which symbolically represent a person's life) but I need more to show. These are complicated works. I need to build up a body of work. (More about story portraits later.)
  • Art to Wear: I am now gearing up to sew more hats and jackets for the holiday season. A local gallery wants to have a fashion show but my inventory is woefully low. This is a huge job, though. Once I commit to sewing wearables, I have to stick with it for a few months. There is too much set up involved to do this work sporadically. Shown here are some items I've made in the past.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's All Art!

"What is art?"

This question comes up when two or more creative people have a serious conversation. Last January, a fellow resident at the Vermont Studio Center shared a conversation she had had with a visiting artist. It went something like this.

Visiting Artist/Critic (while looking at Artists work): "Where is the suffering?"
Resident Artist: "I don't paint suffering."
Visiting Artist/Critic: "I need to see the pain."
Resident Artist: "My paintings offer color and composition and people hang them in their homes."
Visiting Artist/Critic: "Do you think that is enough?"

There it is - the BIG question. What makes it art? Is it art if its decorative? Is it art if its commercial?

With the appearance today of my first column in the Valley News, a newspaper that serves the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont, I confidently say "Yes, it is art and I don't paint suffering either."

This painting was at the top of the column.

My column will appear in the Food Section of the paper every Wednesday with this image as the identifying graphic.

A regular column in the newspaper is the offshoot of my food blog .
---Carol Egbert

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In and Out

It's been an interesting week! When a backhoe took out our internet last week it meant a bit of withdrawal for me.... Actually I didn't know how dependent I was on checking email, googling, etc. But, a lot of time is freed up when the internet is no longer available--not that I can say I did anything world altering with it.... This afternoon it was restored and we are now connected to the world at large again.

I've been continuing painting outdoor with my friend, Sandy, along Locust Creek. It is a wonderful way to spend a morning, totally concentrated on the changing scene, the moving light, the altering colors and values. Summer camp for artists! There is no time to think in the ordinary sense when your mind is totally taken up with capturing what is seen in the moment. Time telescopes. It is a shock to see two hours have passed and only the aching feet remind you that it's time for a break. Definitely the power of the now moment as Eckhart Tolle would say. So here are today's results....

Last weeks plein air painting looked too much like camouflage clothing. I began with a muddy brownish color which had a negative affect on the whole. So today I underpainted in greenish blue and violet. I think the depth of the shadows and the general tone of the painting benefited.... It still needs some work but I think it is more lively and fun.

And here's the reference photo from this morning. It will be useful when I attempt to finish the painting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kirigami at The Art Gallery in Stowe

Cynthia Emerlye:

Here are some photos of my kirigami papercuts in the downstairs entry room of The Art Gallery in Stowe, Vermont.

The Art Gallery has been taken over by Donna Ellery, the daughter of the previous owner. Donna, the new owner, is transitioning from a traditional fine art gallery to one which also carries fine crafts. The gallery is two stories and seven rooms of art! The downstairs will feature crafts and the upstairs will remain a fine art gallery, although now various genres of painting will be hung, not just Vermont landscapes.

Right now eight of my framed kirigami mandalas, several black & white prints, and a few kirigami cards are in the gallery. Donna wants to carry my hats and jackets in the fall. The new Gallery 47 in Woodstock wants to have a fashion show with my work, so let's see how many items I can build between now and then.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Anything Goes" Day

I'm still really enjoying working small and using lots of found materials. It's very freeing to be less concerned about editing as I decide what to include in each piece. On a particularly "anything goes" day in my studio I created a very silly piece using shells, buttons, wire, old metal. The result is a bit strange but the process was liberating and fun:

Here is another piece that's more restrained, but also taps into working without thinking too much:

There is a rather odd collection hanging on the wall. Once again, I don't know where this is going, but it seems just right for now.

Barbara Bartlett


An outdoor Sculpture Festival
featuring Sculptors from New England
Opening Reception
September 5, 2009
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Featured artist: Anne Dean
Prosper Road, Woodstock, VT
Open daily from dawn to dusk through November

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fooling Around With Scratchboard

When I was with her last week, Judy Jensen (most creative person I know) showed me her gorgeous scratchboard illustrations for a new book she is creating and encouraged me to try this medium. I haven't used scratchboard since grade school and back then it was a feeble, flimsy medium. Ampersand and others make a beautiful surface, black ink over clay (I suspect several layers of sanded gesso would work) mounted on a solid board. It is fascinating to work with. I love it! Clayboard has enough depth to it that one can create an almost dimensional feel. The solid board makes it easy to work with as well. I'm experimenting with four different kinds of blades right now. So much fun to play around. The above is a two-movie amusement. This will be a wonderful addition to my Black & White repertoire.

Here is the detail of the inner part of my play board, a small sketch I did for a commission I am working on. Simple, I know, but elegant in person.

I am also working on a postcard to advertise my life coaching services* so I thought I might try putting it into a scratchboard border. Here's the top. Eventually this design will become my new promotional postcard. Below you see it in its original black and also inversed.

I was going to go with this black one but, when I posted it on Facebook along with its inverse below, everyone voted for the white one. One friend even said the black one looks like an ad for a haunted house, without the spiders! Oy!So I completely re-designed my promo card, using instead the black and white logo I created a few years ago. It looks much more elegant and professional.

I guess my scratchboard is too funky for this purpose right now. My florals should look good on it, though. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Painting en plein air

Painting outdoors on location is always an interesting experience. First there is all the stuff that has to come along: paints, medium, brushes, palette knife, easel, canvas, view finder, paper towels, bug spray, visor, water and peanut butter and jelly sandwich are absolutely necessary. Then maybe: pliers (or matches) to open the stuck paint tubes, a chair, a camera, a sketchbook, drawing supplies--it quickly begins to feel like packing for the wagon train to Wyoming....

Still, there's nothing like it. Today on Locust Creek was just beautiful--clear and cool after way too much rain these last several weeks. Sandy and I set up near the bank, the loudly rushing water nearly making conversation impossible.

Toward the end of the session I took a reference photo as always, in case I want to go back in to the painting later or enlarge it into a studio painting. Below is what the creek looked like to the camera late this morning....

It's always a daunting task to choose where to begin and end a composition outdoors and, as usual, I bit off more than I could easily chew. But that's the challenge of working outside! The light changes constantly and you know you only have a couple of hours to work. It's much more exciting than painting from photographs.

While painting, several folks came by. A disappointed woman was first--nothing on the canvas yet! Next, two white bearded men in a red pickup truck came and went twice giving approval to the work each way. A woman stopped to share "how pretty" the painting was. A mom and her baby and dog stopped to chat a bit. Two carloads of "In the Woods Camp" kids arrived to enjoy the swimming hole and share their opinions of the work going on.

And after a morning's work, this is the result. It's loose and free and perhaps, unfinished, and I am happy. Plein air painting is all about the process for me. The finished result is important but less so than the experience of struggling to make sense of the values and colors, what to include and what to leave out and when to say "I'm finished for now".

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hanging out

Today Chris and I hung my show titled Intersections at Umpleby's Bakery Cafe in Hanover. The area was equipped with rods and hooks which made hanging easy although it was hard to get the pieces to sit flat against the wall. Oh looks pretty good anyway.

It is such a delight to get to see my work exhibited in a public space, as I imagine it is for most artists. For so long it hangs out in the studio, longing for a little good light and attention. I'm happy to think that hundreds of coffee, sandwich and sweets buyers will view the work and perhaps feel some emotion because of their experience. Of course I will never know (unless someone likes a piece so much they decide to buy it!).

I'm planning a reception on August 23 and hope that friends will be interested in seeing what I've been up to recently.

Barbara Bartlett