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Archive for the ‘Art in a crisis’ Category

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far-out

No, I haven’t been lazy since the last entry.  But most recent renderings have been too large to put through my scanner—like 16″ x 20″ and 20″ x 24″.  Large paintings can be photographed, but that never works for me as well as a scan.

Featured above are a couple of little guys that I’ve sandwiched in between the biggies.  In the top painting, the watery effect was achieved with thinned white gouache drifted randomly over the rocks.  The second painting was experimental, with lots of goopy gesso topped with acrylic bead gel.  When the gesso and gel were thoroughly dry, paint was added to drizzle and drip on the textured ground.

Meanwhile, I currently have a hole in my head.  Maybe that’s not so funny as it sounds, but HEY!  Let’s laugh.  Arthritis is the creator of a one centimeter gap, causing (GOOGLE this one!) a diagnosis of Atlanto Axial Instability.  In plain talk, I’m a BOBBLEHEAD—the treatment of which, at this stage and perhaps in lieu of surgery, is a very fashionable neck/head brace fitted for me at our local Hanger Clinic.

The pleasant young man who fitted the brace commented that I have a long neck.  Then he chuckled when I shared that my maiden name is “Longenecker”.  I doubt very much that he caught the double entendre cached in my name; he is too young.  Had he fully grasped the joke, his chuckle might have been a guffaw.  Moreover, unless you readers have connections with the 1930s and 40s you may not realize that once upon a time the word “neck” was a verb as well as a noun—with “necking” being an active, enjoyable present participle!  🙂

Grammar and vintage fun aside, my brace is downright elegant.  With a red tint in my hair, I look something like Queen Elizabeth the First.  So what in the world does this stream of consciousness wandering have to do with art?  Namely, this:  for years I’ve painted standing up, with my head bending over a waist high table.  Now that I’m de-bobbled by a neck brace, this position is no longer comfortable.  When the head falls forward and down, I feel more like Elizabeth the First’s motherthe Unfortunate Anne.

I refuse to stop painting, so what to do?  Joe and I cuddled on the couch with my I-Pad, and scrolled down pages of standing easels.  Unanimously we concluded that spending an arm and a leg just to accommodate my compromised head would be stupid.

Then suddenly a light went on in said head:  my sturdy, adjustable music stand.  Although my violin retired from active duty years ago, the music stand has continually served in the capacity of displaying art.  Now the music stand has morphed into a standing easel.

Voila!  There’s always a way to make minor adjustments—even major ones when needed.  Life is GOOD!  🙂

music-stand

Margaret L. Been — November 20th, 2016

NOTE:  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sweet Irony 2

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Shakespeare’s Juliet, ROMEO AND JULIET

I’m amazed when I tour our local art gallery and view huge four digit (as in $6000) paintings—abstract renderings on gallery wrapped canvas panels—bearing the vague name:  “Untitled”.

Two questions prevail.  Was the meaning of the work so intrinsically personal that the artist could not divulge whatever he was thinking?  Or did the art, once completed, fail to bring anything specific to the artist’s mind?

I probably will never make $6000 art.  But whatever I make, I’ve vowed that I’ll never title a painting “Untitled”.  I will not cop out!  Perhaps my work would smell as sweet (or not sweet!) sans a name, but I’m going to think up something definite to call every one of my creations.

Admittedly, once I cut loose on YUPO® paper anything can happen.  Whereas I normally start with a subject in mind on Arches (pronounced “ARSH”—it’s French) 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper, on YUPO I do not burden myself with representational responsibilities.  The paint on the glass-like surface leads the way, surprises me, responds to a minimum of manipulation, and literally “does its own thing”.

(Although I never embraced the violent or destructive activities of the 60s and 70s, I do have a bit of residual Hippie in me.  The earth mother crafts glammed on and stuck, although I’ve refined them and added a lot of pizzazz, and so did the concept of free expression in art—which, in retrospect I realize to be my birthright.  I always did and I always will EXPRESS FREELY in one way or another!)

So finding a name for a painting is sometimes a challenge, given the slippery slide of paint on YUPO.  Sometimes I have to prop the finished piece up and gaze at it for a few days.  But mostly a name surfaces, along with the last swipe of the brush.  Often a title appears in the wake of whatever might be lingering in my head as I paint.

The above happy rendering is called “Sweet Irony”.  It is sweet and it is ironic; while painting I was processing an annoying past event which ended with an amazing surprise turn.  The surprise has made all the difference in the world, and now the event carries sweet rather than bitter implications.

Again, to quote my beloved old bard:  “All’s well that end’s well.”

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March Swamp I

It is no secret that our soul climate on any given day can be reflected in the expressions of our soul—be they in the form of a poem, a song, or a painting.  For this reason, counsellors who work with children will pay considerable attention to the “climate” of a child’s art.

I normally spend from 20 to 30 hours a week at my palette.  A few days ago I realized that my work was becoming “dark”—not in subject matter, but in actual hue and tone.  Skies were murky.  Water was muddy, and mountains were drab rather than sparkling.  There has been a distinct absence of sunlight, moonlight, and fleecy clouds in recent renderings.  I didn’t need to look far afield for the answer to this puzzle; in fact it really wasn’t a puzzle at all.  Two weeks ago a family member was diagnosed with cancer.  Hence my paintings have darkened. 

So three days ago I decided, this will never do.  I am not a “dark” person—although I love dark skin, and “work hard” to obtain it in the summer!  I have passion for light, and so does my loved one who has cancer.  There is no way I can help her (or myself) through the days and weeks ahead by “painting dark”!

Now things are looking up in every way.  The cancer is Stage II, and it is believed that chemo will not be needed after surgery.  And I’ve pivoted my palette, paper, and paints back to the light.  The above print depicts a subject I love—a swamp, in this case a “March Swamp” with the sap of life rising above melting snow.

And below you will see another subject of love and light—one that may be wearing you viewers out because I feature it so often:

 Living on the Patio with Iced Tea

“Living on the Patio with Iced Tea”

SOON!!!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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I was delighted when someone commented that my art expresses “energy”—so delighted that I painted the above watercolor and titled it “Energy”.  But I was also mystified.  I really don’t think I have much energy!  (For more of my personal energy crisis and health related subjects see http://richesinglory.wordpress.com/ )

How wonderful to know that there is a soul and spirit energy which has nothing to do with whatever is going on in our bodies!  Soul and spirit are the grist of life, and the attributes thereof can carry us as long as we live—if we maintain our priorities and focus!

Within the confinements of age and incapacitating illness the great French painter, Matisse (1869-1954), continued expressing his soul energy in cut paper collages—right up until his death in 1954. 

Art history contains examples of artists who went on working, although at a less intense level, after they became partially blind.  Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) is an inspiring example.  Per Wikipedia, “In 1972, O’Keeffe’s eyesight was compromised by macular degeneration, leading to the loss of central vision and leaving her with only periphial vision. She stopped oil painting without assistance in 1972, but continued working in pencil and charcoal until 1984.”

I believe that the older we get, the more we need an intense passion in life—and at least one creative activity that we can take with us wherever we go.  I spent about one-third of the days and nights from September, 2010 until June, 2011 at a nearby hospital.  Several of these occasions involved surgery and recovery for me.  But most of the days and nights were spent camping in my husband’s hospital room, where he underwent a number of serious leg surgeries and heart procedures. 

These times were productive for me.  My knitting and art supplies were ever at my side, along with a few books.  I slept on a futon in Joe’s hospital room, and kept my stuff on my own little corner table by the big windows.  In the daytime, I knitted and read—and many a night I sketched and painted at my little table before going to sleep to the sound of dripping IVs and clicking computer monitors hooked up to my man.  Joe and I were together, and God gave me peace in the midst of these storms.  My lack of physical energy was compensated, and my mind was challenged, by producing colorful art in yarn and on paper.

Energy!  The less we think we have, the more we may have welling up inside—just waiting for some creative venue of expression!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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