Inspiration

August 29, 2013

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The new drawings for the HERALD1 show opening next week at the Richmond Public Library are a departure from my previous work both in terms of medium (soft pastel) and image (non-representational abstraction). But the ideas and related work go back as far as my art student days and have collected through the years. The origins of the new work are varied and include: a student monotype series, an unrealized photography project, a group of paintings concerned with constructs of perspective in two-dimensional representation, a collaborative project of mixed-media pieces traded back and forth with a friend, and my more recent collages and three-dimensional work. The drawings became a point of intersection for these varied ideas and images.

These drawings are also influenced by several artists whose work I have appreciated over the years including: Sean Scully (his soft pastels are as lush as his large oils), Richard Diebenkorn (color! layers! veils!), Christopher Wilmarth (his minimal glass and steel sculptures are full of mystery and feeling), and Paul Rotterdam (his powerful drawing series Stations of the Cross was exhibited at the Anderson Gallery when I was studying painting at VCU and the images have stayed with me ever since).

Please join us on Friday, September 6 at the Richmond Public Library Main Branch, 6:30-9:00 for the opening of HERALD1. The show remains on exhibit through October 29.

Benefits

March 8, 2012

Every misfortune has its benefits if we are willing to look for them. Breaking my wrist last fall definitely affected my creative efforts by limiting the drawing and painting that I usually do. But it also freed me in ways that I wouldn’t have predicted. One project that came out of that time was a left-handed sketch book that began when I picked up a Moleskine Japanese Album that my sister had given me. This is a small (3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″) blank book with one long page folded accordion-style. I loved the process of making a continuous drawing that could also be looked at by turning pages. Working left-handed was a great opportunity to work without expectations and judgement. And the drawing developed with a notion of healing. I suspect that my bones may have healed just a bit more quickly for that intention! Here are a few pages:

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Retreat

August 31, 2011

Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t enjoy a day’s retreat to the country?  Jo Pendergraph at Manakintowne Specialty Growers and I have put together a drawing workshop at her farm in Powhatan that offers an opportunity for renewal and inspiration.  If you are interested, contact me here or Jo through Manakintowne.  Join us for a day of relaxed creativity, good food, and good company in a very special place!  Here are the details:

PLEIN AIR DRAWING WORKSHOP AT MANAKINTOWNE 

October 22,  10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Enjoy a day of plein air drawing with oil pastel at the farm of Manakintowne Specialty Growers in Powhatan.  After gathering for a demo, students will choose a work site among the fields.  A farm lunch will be provided.  Some drawing experience is helpful, but experience with oil pastel is not required.  This is a good opportunity to try a new medium!  All drawing materials are provided, but feel free to bring your own.  Tuition for the day is $115.  Sign up as soon as possible, as space is limited.  We are looking forward to a beautiful day at the farm and a tasty farm lunch!


Recently I had the great pleasure of helping with Patrick Dougherty’s new installation at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Diamond in the Rough. And yes, this is a belated post, since the piece was completed a couple of weeks ago. There was so much to enjoy about working on this project: learning how these things are put together, learning how to draw with sticks, enjoying the smell of the material and the feel of the spaces, meeting new people and working with other volunteers, helping Patrick’s assistant Andy on the highest dome (on my birthday!), watching Patrick work, and having a chance to get to know him. Patrick is a remarkable artist and a remarkable person. Unlike an artist working alone in a studio, Patrick depends on the help of volunteers and is very aware of the community aspect of his work. He has to be open to whatever happens at the hands of his helpers, to be willing to not be in total control. As any artist, he begins with an idea – in this case a grid of eleven diamonds – and reacts and adjusts as the piece develops. Throughout the process, Patrick was sincere and generous with viewers and helpers alike. Now that the working is done, he has left behind not only a truly delightful installation to be enjoyed by many people in many different ways but also a sort of lovely cloud of kindness and generosity that has settled upon the many people he encountered during his three week stay here – one that surely gathers and settles wherever he finishes a project. It is not only the site of his installation that is changed by his work, but the people too!

Diamond in the Rough will be at the gardens for a long while, but it will change over time. So visit soon and visit often. You won’t be disappointed!

Patrick Doherty

Almost finished

Andy on the roof

Looking through

Delight

February 10, 2011

At the end of last year I took a clay class at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond to learn more about the possibilities that clay has to offer.  In one class we learned how to make clay whistles, and I immediately became enchanted by them.  The shape reminded me of pods, spores, and organelles, and I pulled out my old botany book for inspiration.  I love the way these feel in my hand as I shape and carve them and the way each develops into its own particular form.  But most of all, I love that these little sculptural objects have a secret life: they make a sound, a beautiful note – hollow like the hoot of an owl.  It is really silly how much I enjoy working with these little chunks of clay (an addiction really),  but I see no reason to pass up delight!

I expect to have a small bunch of these in the March show at Quirk, so come by and take a look.

Gem

February 8, 2011

Yesterday on a run through the woods I found this small gem lying in the path.

It was the colors that caught my eye:  the red hooked root and the yellow cotyledon with the little bit of bright green at the top (not so apparent in this image) – all standing out against the dull brown of the winter path.  This tiny gem became the germ for many thoughts floating around my head.  The finding of it surely supports what I tell my drawing classes; whatever (color or value) you put next to something changes it.  I would likely not have noticed this acorn or appreciated its colors had it been lying in the midst of colorful flowers.  This little gem of a seed also seems to relate to the small (tiny, actually) collages I am working on at the moment.  Every element, every small detail – such as a bit of green n a cotyledon – makes a difference.  Change something and the image and meaning shift.  Hmm…I am wanting to continue my musings here, but I will save such stream of consciousness silliness for my next run rather than subject anyone who might have landed here to too many words about too many of life’s tiny details.  For now, it is back to the studio to work on the small details of tiny collages.  I  have a deadline to deliver these for a show at Quirk in March – stay tuned for more details!  And later this week a short entry on… DELIGHT!

Studio Envy

May 28, 2010

Studio space can be a critical factor in the working life of an artist.  The kitchen table, the corner of a room, or the space of a drawing table often have to make do.  Garages and basements can offer an improvement in square footage but not necessarily in quality of space (I’m thinking of camel crickets, spiders, mold, and damp darkness).  A dedicated room with heat, natural light, and running water nearby may seem a luxury.  But there are other possibilities…

On a recent trip to Spain I visited the Museo Sorolla in Madrid.  This oasis is a few metro stops from the historic center and main tourist area of the city.  It is the former home and studio of the artist Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923).  The house was designed with a studio and two gallery rooms attached.  Sorolla designed the surrounding gardens.  What a gem!  The house and studio hold not only many of Sorolla’s paintings but also his collections, from pottery to artifacts. With the exception of the rooms that now serve as gallery space, the house is much as it was when Sorolla died, and the visit offers an interesting glimpse into a creative life.  This is the studio:

This is a view from the garden of the studio/gallery entrance (now the museum entrance):

And this is a view of one of the four garden spaces:

If I lived in Madrid, this garden would be a frequent destination; a place to read, think, sketch, be.  And the studio; well, I’m not sure I would know what to do with so much space!