Monday, May 30, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Buffalo once roamed Kentucky and formed traces, paths that turned into Native American and pioneer trails. Some of these then turned into the roads we use today. The buffalo were traveling to reach the resources necessary to their survival, such as water and salt. It just so happens that one of the traces is the foundation of US 68 (Buffalo Tracings, March 24.) Not only did the buffalo shape transportation, they also had an effect on the vegetation. One beneficiary of the roaming buffalo was Running Buffalo Clover. Trifolium Stoloniferum requires periodic disturbance and an open habitat to thrive, kind of like artists! We need to air out our ideas from time to time, and a mild tramping on the trails probably doesn't hurt either; it helps us grow. This is what coming into contact with other artists can do for us, it helps us put out runners to have a larger presence in our region. Seeing other artists' work keeps our ideas fresh. Hearing criticism, allows us to become stronger by either defending or improving our work. On the other hand, major disturbances, such as paving over a path, would terminate the expansion of Running Buffalo Clover. The lack of buffalo grazing freely has brought this clover to the brink of extinction, just as overly strict ideas about culture inhibits artistic creation.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
At church last Sunday, Dick came up to me and said that my blog about my juste milieu year made him think of synchronicity. Indeed--and it is continuing! Just as I had made plans to take down my work at White Horse, I received an e-mail from Kathy in Flemingsburg, who, with her husband Ken, created Banana Tree Studios. They have been very active in making arts happen in their community. A couple of years ago, Kathy invited me to teach a workshop on using watercolor and pastel in making paintings. I had not taught before, but I am curious about how others approach art-making and I was happy to talk about this spontaneous and intuitive technique. I taught the workshop, and wound up meeting a friend who plays a big role in my art colony: Mary-Louise was a student in my first workshop! There were also members of the Ohio River Valley Art Guild taking the workshop and so I made a connection with an exciting group of artists, mostly centered around Maysville, KY, a beautiful river town along US 68.
But even better than this opportunity to display, was the wonderful chance to catch up with Kathy. As you can see from the photo to the right, she is up to big things! Kathy is taking a drawing class at nearby Morehead State University. She is working on a project for her final exam which involves making rubbings of objects (frojet is the official term) and incorporating them into a flowing composition. Her composition is all about the beach (which is appropriate since she and Ken moved to Kentucky--chased by one too many hurricanes--from Florida.) The objects she used for rubbing are on the table. Kathy waxed enthusiastic about her drawing class and how it makes her very anxious to get back to her main medium, pastel. Over lunch we talked about our dreams of artists connecting in the region to raise awareness of our rich presence. I suppose this is why I wanted to write about my art colony, because it really exists. Visiting with Kathy was the perfect reminder.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
So, this is the backdrop as I approached my 55th birthday. Last spring David and I had been planning on taking part in a hiking trip in Spain. The last day of this trip we would spend in Madrid where Sargent's painting of the Daughters of Edward Darley Boit would be on display with Velasquez's Las Meninas for the very last day. But David's knee gave out and we had to scrap these hiking plans. Perhaps I was a bit sullen as we drove into Houston last spring on the day after my birthday (We had enjoyed a fine birthday dinner at The Olive Garden in Texarkana!) Mary's junior year was wrapped up and she lived near the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. So we drove by the MFAH and draped over the side of the building was a huge sign: Sargent and the Sea. I couldn't believe my good fortune! Naturally, I went to see the exhibit twice while we were in Houston. My favorite painting was the one above, Fishermen Returning, set in Cancale in Brittany, France. The light is magical, at once luminescent but also a little sad. I tried to absorb as much as I could of the young Sargent's brilliant rendering of water and humanity, sky and creatures. Included in the exhibit were Sargent's early scrapbooks, which were fantastically inspiring.
A couple of weeks later we went to see Jacob graduate from Washington University, Saint Louis with a masters in finance. Now, we would not have been able to attend this graduation if we had been in Spain, so the trade off had become very easy. We stayed at a hotel a little ways out from the campus. The restaurant where we had our breakfast had these very pleasing paintings which made me think of Millet. I was very curious about them. It was quite surprising, when I went to look up Juste Milieu to discover that Jules Bastien-Lepage, the ringleader of the Juste Milieu was the painter of the paintings imitated on the walls of the hotel outside St. Louis!