To a southerner, steamy temperatures above 90 isn’t a heat wave. Its Summer. Until it gets too hot for tomatoes.
We continue in our summer routines – cutting grass, washing trucks, fighting off blood-sucking insects. We take little notice of the oppressive heat until the tomatoes stop growing. When its too hot for pollination its time to check on the elderly, drink plenty of fluids, stay inside air-conditioned buildings and thank God that you have a rickety ceiling fan and not a crystal chandelier in your bedroom.
THE INSPIRATION: With daytime temperatures staying above 86, there are no new tomatoes being produced. I’m just trying to save the ones that are there.
THE CHALLENGE: Plein-air work in the garden. At 8:00 in the morning it’s already hot, humid and humming with biting insects! Insect repellent is a must. But it doesn’t keep the flies, gnats off your paper, pastels and paint pallet!
THE SKETCH: I did two sketches. The 5″x 7″ watercolor postcard mailed to my daughter-in-law in sympathy with her gardening struggles.
Our plants are not thriving. Just surviving!
Another sketch was done in pastels. This time I focused on what was still good about the plant – the ripening fruit. Mmm… the glass is looking half-full!
THE TAKEAWAY: Nice imperfections. The smudges and unfinished lines allows the viewer’s eyes to fill in the gaps and form a completed picture in the mind.
I admire the plump, ripening fruit, despite the unforgiving heat!
Problem #1: ITS EARLY SPRING. Prepare the gardens for planting. Summer squash, tomatoes and vibrant annual flowers. Trimming back climbing ivy. More time spent outdoors than indoors. “Mmm. I’ll have to do art later. Then I can post it on my blog.”
Problem #2: ITS LATE SPRING. Roasting peanuts. Fighting garden slugs and weeds in the garden. Lots of rain keeps the grass growing. First family vacation in 7 years. Visiting our favorite coastal Georgia island. “Great! I’ll do some sketches. They will make great studies for a finished piece. Then I can post it on my blog.”
Problem #3: ITS SUMMER. Finding great mark-downs on produce. Put away several pints of peach preserves. Harvest 14 quarts of squash. Blanched and frozen. Picking horn worms off tomatoes struggling through neglect and scorching summer heat. Time for planting okra. “Ahh! Maybe the garden will inspire me to make art. Then I can post it on my blog.”
I know you are still waiting to see all those sketches.
Found this short video about artist Clare Carver of Big Table Farm in Gaston, Oregon. Carver’s work on the farm is what inspires her creations. Great idea. Now if I can set aside some time for art…
THE INSPIRATION: I recently posted Claire the Cat’s somewhat apologetic letter to a little girl. If you are new to this blog, you may want to read Claire’s backstory: Claire the Cat . Want to read more posts about her? Type “cats” in the search bar.
THE CHALLENGE: Animals move. Cats move a lot. Unless they are taking one of their daily 12 1/2 naps. So one would think that would be the best time to sketch a cat. Not for this artist’s model! Evidently the scratching sound of charcoal on paper was enough to awaken and annoy Claire the Cat. Who promptly walked away to find respite in her favorite human arms.
I followed. Tried sketching again. To no avail. And had to resort to photography. Claire the Cat was not pleased – as evident in finished piece. Oh the paparazzi!
THE SKETCH: A tiny 5 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ ACEO piece. Pastels and watercolor wash.
THE TAKEAWAY: The artist’s eye can see sense emotion better than any camera! I’m going to try again when Claire is in a happier mood – perhaps a more wakeful moment.
It has often been said that Art Curators are simply frustrated artists. Been there. Felt that. Got the t-shirt, coffee mug and tote bag! Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator blog would agree. On the other hand, Megan McNaught might not.
McNaught is the Curator of The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance (Macon, Georgia). She has access to a list of more than 200 regional artists for exhibitions. And submissions keep pouring in. A prolific artist in her own right, McNaught has no cause for ‘jealousy’ or frustration.’ Rather she welcomes other artists to collaborate with her in the creative process.
She writes in her artist statement: “Collaborating for me has been a…creative springboard to new and exciting work. Starting an image and handing it off to be finished, or being given an image to finish is intimidating, daunting and requires brave actions…expanding a creative process beyond oneself.”
A wonderful juxtaposition of artistic styles occur when McNaught collaborates with artist Luke Buffenmyer. Whereas McNaught work is a deliberate use of restrictions and rules, Buffenmyer’s allegorical images are a collection of memories and emotions.
Work by Luke Buffenmyer, Image Credit: mga.edu
Work by Luke Buffenmyer Image Credit: ovations365.com
Collaboration work by Megan McNaught Image Credit meganmcnaught.blogspot.com
Agglomeration by McNaught and Buffenmyer Image Credit meganmcnaught.blogspot.com
“Hey! This one looks like its in 3-D.” This comment by a fellow museum visitor piqued my curiosity while viewing Emerging Artists (Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia). Optical art was not among the contemporary work. Missing were strategically placed lighting effects. Yet Michael Ross’ canvases were aglow with activity, color and light.
Michael Ross in Studio. Image Credit: michaelrossart.com
Waxwing in New Forest image from Emerging Artists (Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia)
Elecampane image from Emerging Artists (Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia)
Image from Emerging Artists exhibit Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon, Georgia)
‘The figures in my paintings are on the move. They exist in transient flux but have a sense of mission: a decision is looming, an obstacle lies ahead that will leave them changed…Like a film director, I want to create worlds [that] must feel real and lived, if heightened and cinematic. ‘
Despite all this drama, it was Ross’s quiet lush landscapes that kept me captivated at the exhibition. His oil painting Waxwing in a New Forest simmers with the thick humidity of the South. The transplanted Marylander has embraced his new home “with all its beauty and tragedy.”
Unbeknownst to my suburban neighbors summer squash, okra, eggplant and bush beans have often been planted in among the dianthus and marigolds filling our front flower bed. A lovely rosemary bush also calls this garden patch home.
THE INSPIRATION: Georgia’s winter 2017 has been unusually warm. Its February and the rosemary has become a fragrant work site for impatient bees resulting in an abundance of tiny blue-violet flowers. On a particularly sunny day, I decided on a bit of plein air work in the garden.
THE CHALLENGE: There is a lot going on in my garden, even in the winter – nuthatches, cardinals and house finches are always busy around the feeder. But to keep the drawing simple, I resisted adding the birds and other garden elements. ( No bunnies.) But the stately pines and surrounding hillside were tempting. After 3 false starts to include these, I decided they were a subject matter for another time.
THE SKETCH: Pastels on medium weight drawing paper.
THE TAKE-AWAY: I like this sketch. Especially the wispy clouds. The stiffness of the rosemary bush and concrete birdbath make a good foil for the sky’s lightness. But it feels a little too still. Perhaps a bird or two fluttering nearby would have added movement to this sketch as they do my garden in winter! One can oversimplify.
“Mmm…I see you have a little arts and crafts corner. Must be nice.” Brother observed.
I’d been crocheting granny squares while watching television in the living room. Yarn, hooks and a growing afghan had engulfed my writing desk and were spilling over onto the coffee table. I frowned at the mess in the living room – embarrassed and annoyed at my brother’s quip.
Then I thought “Maybe he’s right. Maybe I do have an “arts and crafts corner.” I’ve miss making art. Especially drawing and painting. The years of museum work, teaching and caregiving left very little time for me to do studio work. Now I have an opportunity to return to my roots as a trained artist. I embrace Brother’s quirky comment.
Yet I questioned the practicality of such a set up. Until I read this post by Lori McNee – Creating Art in Small Studios. Sorting though various art supplies I had on hand – ink, paints, pencils, charcoal, pastels, paper and small canvases – to stock a small studio in my living room.
If you’ve been following ArtReach at Home for sometime, you know that it was truly a personal blog that explored Southernisms. As described in my old About page “Some stories are funny, others sad and some so crazy that you just can’t make this stuff up.” I often wrote about family and my struggles to adjust to being a traditional housewife.
Please continue following this blog. I still have a quirky family and I’m still adjusting. At times you’ll see posts about Claire the Cat, gardening or a fond family memory. However the focus is now on art. Its long overdue.
What is the passion you have put aside? Are you ready to take it up again?
In her bio Ester Lipscomb describes herself as “a studio potter working in northeast Georgia.” A humble understatement from such a sophisticated ceramicist!
Ester Lipscomb in Studio. Credit: esterlipscomb.com
Emerging Artists exhibit, Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon, Georgia US)
Perhaps having a close connection to the earth, or owning a pet dog named Loretta Lynn is what grounds this dynamic artist.
Lipscomb muses “Living in these beautiful mountains gives me the opportunity to enjoy the daily flow of nature and the seasons. I am inspired to create objects that I hope are part of the landscape.” True to their maker’s sensibilities her work has a natural ebb and flow taking on bulbous organic forms.
I was recently introduced to Lipscomb’s work at the Emerging Artists exhibit – Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon, Georgia). This annual event features 7 contemporary artists from around the Southeast whose work is of exceptional caliber. Over the next few weeks, I’ll spotlight their art.