Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Part of the Homescape

Party returns to Clover Slope
I was a little surprised by how joyful it was to receive Partofthelandscape home to Clover Slope once more.  He left about four years ago to help open the Doll & Toy Museum in Carlisle, KY and has served as a party animal ever since.  Party has modeled horse costumes (created by Shirley Gentry) at the Corner Studio (home of the Courthouse Square Arts Guild) and he has kept rockers company at the Neal Welcome Center.  He has even greeted guests to Derby Day festivities at Forest Retreat. 
Paris Pike just before her launch

        Party is my first Horse Mania horse.  I painted him in 2000 and had the opportunity to buy him  a few years later.  We trailered him to Clover Slope, where he fit right in because the windows and door has a certain stable-like quality.  In 2010, I painted Paris Pike. She was sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing ,Kentucky, and they also bought her at the auction.  This is totally appropriate, as Paris celebrates the drive, especially along the beautifully expanded Paris Pike--perhaps one of the most beautiful roads in the country. Paris Pike now overlooks the goings on at Toyota's Georgetown, KY plant. Hmmm, I wonder if she had any input into the newly designed 2012 Camry?

        Meanwhile, back at the Clover Slope ranch, Party will be groomed a bit. He could have used a nice clear coat job like Paris enjoyed. It is good to have him home; part of the homescape.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Following Something Along

In the Floracliff woods, a year later
 I have a favorite book called Creative Autheniticity, by landscape painter Ian Roberts.  It could just as well be called To Thine Own Self be True. Roberts tells it like it is; that sooner or later we will know that we just have to be ourselves.  We can't help it.

     In the book, Roberts lays out 16 principles to clarify and deepen your artistic vision. My favorite principle at the moment is: Follow Something Along. Roberts makes the point that many of the great artists actually had one theme that they elaborated on for much of their career.  It is not necessary to take on the whole world to express yourself as an artist.

        I was thinking about this over the weekend when I returned to Floracliff for a walk in the autumn woods. A year ago, I was present at Floracliff for the 400th birthday of Woody, the chinquapin oak (please see my original post Into the Woods and later post Into the Woods, Part II.)  If there is a place that I am always at home, it is in the woods. Not only do I feel at home, but I feel elated, even though I am at the base of the trees and not in the heady upper branches.  It is very clear that this is my artistic theme. While I enjoy painting people, animals and all sorts of places, I'll always want to come back to the woods.  This is the vein to be mined, the bone to be gnawed.  Let me add this quote that Roberts includes:

Like to do your work as much as a dog likes to
gnaw a bone and go at it with equal interest and exclusion
of everything else.   ---- Robert Henry

       I highly recommend this book! 
Creative Authenticity: 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision
                                                           by Ian Roberts, published by the Atelier Saint-Luc Press
Dancing Landscape  Floracliff 2010

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It is Never Too Late to Learn...Naturally

This past week has been a joining of my past and my future.  A photographer came to photograph me in my studio. She is the fiancee of the son of a friend from my childhood, so I had the opportunity to talk about events of four + decades ago.  And there was a sale of an art collection gathered by this friend's mother over many decades and that presented the chance to see work by Lexington and Kentucky artists active in the sixties and seventies--the early visuals of my life!  Keeping with this theme, I went to figure drawing class and Tom, the teacher, had a well worn copy of Nicolaides' The Natural Way to Draw. When we students were called upon to introduce ourselves, I mentioned that I had used that book in a drawing class in the seventies.  You might notice that my copy looks fairly pristine, at least in comparison with Tom's duct-taped version.  This puts me to shame! 
       Never-the-less, I had recollection of the sorts of exercises Nicolaide's offers, such as gesture drawing, contour drawing and blind contour drawing.  In the photograph above, you can see blind contour drawing on the left, contour drawing on the right and gesture drawing in the photo to the right.  Looking back, I figure I have been drawing the figure for at least four decades.  Even so, it was clear there is always something to learn. During class, Tom pointed out one student's drawing, noting the focus on the tension in the arm and how that was the most dynamic aspect of that pose. I looked at my scribbly limb and saw the truth in Tom's observation.  We can always learn--that is what makes life so exciting!
    So now comes the invitation to you to join us for an Experimenting with Watercolor & Pastel class on Tuesday's in November, beginning November 8th from 7 - 9 pm.  In this class, we bring what we have to the art that we make: how we see the world and how our hands express that vision.  Students are encouraged to bring their own photographs for working on preferred subject matter. The use of watercolor and pastel gives us maximum flexibility for expression without painting ourselves in a corner.  Come check it out for yourself and learn something new!  Please visit the Lexington Art Academy website: lexingtonartacademy.com.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


The Autumn leaves...we have experienced a couple in just this last week.  Mary left last Sunday to be a teaching assistant in Brittany, France for the academic year. She arrived safely, with all her luggage in tow and has established herself in Queven. It is with a mixture of rapt excitement and mourning that I vicariously experience her new adventure.

Brothers, on the road together, post-trail

      This weekend, we say goodbye to our nephew, Private First Class Rees as he heads off to basic training.  The weather turned cold for the first morning of October and a brisk walk in the woods seemed like a good idea.  We went over to Blue Licks State Resort Park to indulge. The day was mostly overcast with sun shining sporadically through the just-barely changing leaves. I was filled with that bittersweet melancholy; where you experience something so lovely and simultaneously see it slip away. I knew in advance that there were a lot of paintings here. My photos never adequately express what I am seeing in this time on the cusp between summer and autumn.  Carly (the dog) set the pace on the Indian Run trail and so the ascent up the hill by the run warmed us up quite effectively. 

Fred with his good luck clover
  After our invigorating trek, we set out for a final, pre-basic training geo-cache hunt. This was also at Blue Licks. A black cat  (perhaps the same one we saw as we first set out on our hike?) was patrolling the area. Never-the-less, the cache was soundly found! Not only that, but as we were walking across the field to the car, I spotted a six-leaf clover, just in time to send Fred off with a good luck charm. My last chance--and my first October extra-leaf clover.

Here's to safe passage for our young people as they set out in the world. And here's to all us autumnal types, able to savor the sweetness of it all, even as we ourselves are drying on the vine (okay, I'm only speaking for myself!) What a glorious world!
Mary heads out, with her Susan Hoff bag!