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Archive for the ‘Monet’ Category

Heading Home for Good.jpg

I doubt there is any middle ground with Yupo paper.  One either loves it or hates it.  The “haters” are those artists who demand control of their paints, and always work with an unflappable agenda in mind.  These folks create beautiful works of abject realism, and often artists of palpable realism are highly trained and amazingly gifted—especially if they achieve high end realism in watercolors.  Everyone knows that chasing watercolors is a bit like herding cats.

I am neither highly trained nor amazingly gifted, and fortunately the art I love the most does not fall in the category of abject realism.  My favorite artists, the French Impressionists, Post Impressionists, Les Fauves, etc. who worked largely in oils were realistic to a degree, but always with an intensely personal voice.  For anything other than “personal voice” I would use a camera—and for me, that wouldn’t be half as much fun as getting out the Yupo and letting the paints fly hither and thither.

Last week my good friend and fellow artist, Vikki, and I shared an art day at our dining room table.  We began on Yupo.  My rendering was, for starters, terribly generic and dreadfully similar to stacks of other paintings I’ve done:  tree – space – tree – space;  leaves and blossoms on tree – space – etc; and plomp – plomp – plomp – ad nauseum.

Now I detest—and desire to always eschew—the plagiarizing of any thing or any person, including myself.  So that night I looked over this Yupo thingy, almost upchucked, sprayed it with my trusty water bottle, pressed plastic clingy food wrap onto the entire surface, and went to bed.

The next day I removed the cling film and VOILÀ!  Something I could further develop and live with:  the suggestion of a Viking ship* with sails, and lots of turbulence all over the place.  So much better than plomp – plomp – plomp!

I added delineation and definition via gouache to the vessel and its surrounding sky and water—leaving a plethora of confusion, color, and turbulence in the sails as if the depicted journey was, like many of life’s journeys, fraught with distractions, dead-ends, and disasters.

However I am always a positive-note person, so then I named the piece:  “Heading for Home the Last Time”—reflecting my blessed assurance in a glorious destination through it all, and eternal joy in the presence of my Lord Jesus.

Margaret L. Been, May 2017

*Because this painting is matted and framed to 12″ x 16″, it was too large to entirely fit in my scanner.  Thus the ends of the ship do not completely show on the print.  The original in its full size is more representative of an actual Viking ship.  Since my husband is descended from Vikings, and loves ships, I wanted to be somewhat realistic.  🙂

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Rustic Vase 3.jpg

. . .  just keep on painting   Perhaps I’m not the only artist who occasionally hits a wall—the wall of questions and doubts.  We writers call that “writers block”, something I have never allowed to discourage me; I kept right on writing through the block.

So it’s logical to approach a painter’s wall the same way, and keep right on painting through the wall.  While doing this recently, I had the following dialogue with Myself:

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Myself:  Who am I to call myself an artist anyway?  I simply began painting 10 years ago, at age 72.  Never went to art school.  Never thought I had any talent—just a love for art.

I:  Shame on you for thinking that way.  You, of all people.  You are always telling others that everyone has an artist inside them, and they should have the courage to try it if they have the desire!

Myself:  But lately it seems that I am plagiarizing myself.  All I’m painting are flowers, and sometimes I wonder if flowers are the only thing I’m certain that I can paint!

I:  Lots of people paint the same thing over and over.  And lots of artists love to paint flowers.  Have you ever heard of Monet?

Myself:  Are you comparing me to Monet?  Shame on YOU!

I:  Of course none of us is comparable to him.  We are all different, and that’s the way God intended us to be.  But we can study the GREATS, and learn from them!  You are always telling other people to do that.  Yikes!  Why don’t you practice what you preach?

Myself:  Okay.  I get it.  I should encourage myself the way I like to encourage other people.  I’ll keep plugging along with my brushes.  I do love art with a PASSION!

I:  Good for you.  Now you are talking sensibly!  And even if you are on a flower painting roll, you can look for a different emphasis—like varying your colors or background, and finding a fresh focus of interest along with the flowers.  Then suddenly you’ll inadvertently (or maybe on purpose!) stick a cabin, fencepost, river, or trail in among the flowers.


Whew!  That’s over.  This week Myself took the advice of I, so We will switch to the first person voice.

I spent a couple of evenings browsing through my flower art books to see what might make a difference.  The idea of working on the background (or in the above result, the surround) grabbed me.  As always, I let my colors blend on the paper—and then added every texture agent I had on hand (salt, granulating medium, texture medium, crackle medium, dabbing with tissue, etc.).  That was so much fun, so I gave the vase the same cavalier treatment.  And named the painting “Rustic Vase”.

Now I will pass on some encouragement to YOU—the Reader*.  If you tend to hit a wall, don’t let it slow you down.  Just keep on painting through the wall!

Margaret L. Been — June 9th, 2016

*My stats page shows that you Readers are all over the world—on every continent and on many islands as well. This excites me more than I can say.  🙂

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I love music, and the music I favor varies with my mood.  Some days are just right for Pavaratti, Yo-Yo Ma, or most any Philharmonic.  On other occasions my ethnic roots surface, and only Celtic will do. 

Drums and skirling pipes stir me to a point where I visualize my Campbell of Argyl ancestors pacing and piping with that characteristic dignity and reserve known to few outside the Scottish Highlands.  I’m so enamored with the pipes, that I’ve prematurely (I think, anyway) procured a piper to play “Amazing Grace” for my going-home celebration. 

We have a sizable library of Irish CDs.  A thoughtful mindset calls for poignant ballads, best rendered via harp.  We have several harpists on discs.  The ambience of harp music has a way of transporting the listener to another world.

Rollicking, high energy days call for the Chieftans, the Irish Rovers, or the Clancy Brothers.  Their ballads include accounts of pubs, pretty wenches, that famous Irish anesthesia—whiskey, travelers bound for “Cali – forn – I – aye” (in search of gold, no doubt), and lovers wandering hand in hand beside rivers and green woods. 

Recently I was making art in the evening.  I decided I wanted to paint autumn, because that’s where we are at the moment.  I tried to focus on red, gold, and orange—with a little terra cotta and burgundy thrown in—attempting to capture the brightest autumn imaginable, vibrant with sugar maples.  But for some reason, my brush kept making forays into the greens on the palette—or sometimes into yellows and blues.  My masterpiece in process kept jumping out of season—recalling summer.

Why did this happen?  It dawned on me that a melody and lyrics had been rolling in my head all day, and the music continued to roll as I painted.  I’d played the Clancy Brothers that morning, to provide a peppy background and beat for a day of spinning some gorgeous wool roving into yarn.  Consequently my mind kept echoing:  “He whistled and he sang till the green woods rang, and he won the heart of a lady.”

The result of such a brainwashing simply had to be green woods!  And here it is, on that amazing YUPO® paper.  🙂

Fine artist Barbara Nechis warns against “self-plagiarism”—in other words, painting the same scene or object over and over.  I’ve wondered if I am doing that with my plethora of trees, rocks, and rivers.  But I paint what I love, and I’m in good company.  Claude Monet certainly repeated himself with water lilies and haystacks.

Obviously, as Nechis points out, the solution for painting in series is to vary each rendering so that one is saying something new about the subject with each work:  using different colors and shapes, and striving for a diversified mood with each painting. 

There is no reason why trees have to be grey/black/brownish.  They can be purple, pink, or blue.  Leaves don’t have to be green in summer and red/yellow/gold in autumn.  They can be lavender or black.  I’ve painted fiery red waters (the Shenendoah River actually is red), green and burgundy skies, and every available color of rock. 

If only children, from 2 years old to 90, could realize that we are FREE when we pick up a paintbrush!  If we are truly free in our art making, we can constantly repeat ourselves with impunity!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Ever beautiful in my eyes, are collages which tell a story solely through color and texture.  There is something wonderful about art that doesn’t have to hide behind glass.  I finish my collages with an acrylic gloss medium, so they will last for at least many decades—and probably centuries.

A couple of years ago, an older woman who had been painting most of her life challenged my proclivity for imaginative art.  She said, “There is so much beauty out there.  Why would you want to paint anything other than a scene as it really is?”

I could have answered, “How wonderful that you can replicate nature exactly as it is.  I didn’t think even the most sophisticated cameras could do that!”  But my childhood training in graciousness would undoubtedly have stopped me.

Most of my abstractions contain enough familiar shapes to provide clues of reality.  Actually, I enjoy making some representational art as well.  On occasion I like to paint still lifes, cityscapes, or tree-lined country roads.  When I’m very tired, or when my disintegrating back rachets me out of bed late in the evening, I’ll seek refuge in painting a vase of flowers or the familiar territory of my patio garden.  There will invariably be a touch of fantasy, whimsy, or color that nature never intended—but the finished painting will clearly say “Flowers” or “Patio Garden”. 

My off-the-wall fantasy emerges on days when I’m supercharged.  Invariably, it is the off-the-wall renderings that please me the most.  They broadcast LIFE, ENERGY, COLOR, and FREEDOM—those inner qualities that keep me believing I’m young even when my family and doctors know better.

In any art conversation, we need to delineate between “art” and “ART“!  Lower case art is what I do—at entry level, of course.  Lower case art is what I see in our local galleries.  Lower case art exists at many levels—the bottom strata of beginners like I am, and the advanced layer of veterans who price their work in four digits on the left side of the period.

Then there is ART—those paintings hanging in museums which I’ll probably never visit in person.  I visit this kind of ART online, or via magazines, and I’m thrilled to shreds.  Given the size alone of much fine ART, a real life viewing might finish me off. 

Regarding upper case ART, I favor those works which somehow augment or supplement reality.  Monet was a master at turning gardens and ponds into breathtaking fragments of light and color; to me, his work is the ultimate in excellence and appeal.  But there are realists who move me to the bone as well.  Andrew Wyeth’s poignant “Christina’s World” is heartbreakingly sensitive, and I believe it ranks among the world’s greatest ART.  

We artists are known to grow, and sometimes change in the process.  We may use a brush indoors today, or pour our paint outside and spray it with a garden hose tomorrow.  We may paint barns one year, and strange creatures from the bottom of the ocean in the next.  We may paint a dog that looks like a dog, or—in my case—dogs that look more like people.  That may be because I’ve always viewed my dogs as people.  But that’s totally beside the point!  🙂

“Art” and “ART“!  There’s room enough on our planet for all of it—and for all artists, whether we are representational, moderately expressionistic, or thoroughly off-the-wall!  We should never have to defend what we like to paint, or why!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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I wonder if there ever could be a more widely known and beloved painter than Monet!  Throughout the ages and centuries of Western Civilization art, some of the Renaissance masterpieces comprise what we could term the highest art—due to their richness, representation of genius, complexity, the variety of surfaces on which they were painted, and the Biblical themes they depict.  But when it comes to a universal love for paintings that we can live with, I believe the artist of choice would be Claude Monet.

Considered the “father” of Impressionism, that 19th century movement which revolutionized the art community in Paris and throughout Europe and America, Monet differed radically from some of his also famous contemporaries such as Manet, Renoir, and Degas in that—as he developed—Monet concentrated mainly on landscapes, water, and gardens while his fellow artists painted social gatherings at Parisian cafés, ballerinas, and nudes.

In his early years Monet traveled and painted around France, particularly to areas bordering the sea.  He evacuated for a brief period to London, during the Franco-Prussian war, and London became his favorite European city—perhaps partly due to the ever changing nuances of light and fog on the River Thames. 

In variance with his gregarious artist friends, Monet was a solitude-loving family man.  He is most widely remembered for his home and the gardens which he created at Giverny, about forty miles northwest of Paris, where he lived for forty some years.  The gardens deteriorated over the decades after Monet’s death in 1926, but since the late 1970s they have been restored to their former glory.  Monet was a master gardener who loved every inch of his turf as well as the ponds and Japanese foot bridge which he designed.  His plantings were conceived and arranged with his palette in mind, and he has left gardeners and art lovers a treasure of tranquil beauty.  

How many homes, perhaps some without even realizing it, contain traces of this artist/genius who helped to move the art mentality from a penchant for rigid, detailed reality to the more illusive and painterly qualities of color analysis and intricacy?  Below, you will find my tribute to a painter whom I love, an umbrella with a Monet print hanging from our living room ceiling—to the puzzlement of the little folks who visit here; they have never seen such unusual interior decorating in any other home. ↓ 

I love Monet for his Impressionistic mark, and even more for later pioneering the subsequent phases of art history—Post Impressionism and the beginnings of Abstract Expressionism.  Unlike some later Abstract painters who had an agenda (either political, social, or personal) to shock or debunk, Monet produced work that was life affirming.  He painted the scenes around his home and land, over and over—recording the times of day and changing seasons in haystacks, surrounding fields, and the famous ponds and gardens of Giverny.

Margaret L. Been

Note:  I am adding to my “Simply Art” page—trying to remember to add something at least once a week.  Today’s addition is my very latest watercolor on Yupo paper, titled “Country Roads”.  Now is the time of year when those roads beckon us and lead us into months of wonderful surprises and advenures!

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