Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crazy Good

It has been a bit longer than I like since my last posting. I am in the in-between awkward stage of my studies and didn't think they had anything of particular interest to show. I continue to work. I have scheduled in time to work on original compositions in my home art-school schedule and I am getting excited about finally starting to get some of the ideas and visions on canvas. It will be slow going at first as I want to take each painting through a formal process of sketches, charcoal drawings, grisaille, then finally the color. That process will continue to build my skills. I will probably switch my posts to documenting this work and not showing so many studies.
In the meantime life has been joyfully busy. In addition to working in the studio I have been enjoying getting outdoors as much as possible (in spite of injuries which is another post in and of itself) getting back to music making, and participating in our local community in general. So here are a couple of pictures. The first one is just one of our tomato harvests. Who says you can't grow tomatoes on the northern Oregon coast?!
We actually had several harvests. The past two days, however, have been clear and cold and the tomato plants have passed on. I had two plants in a large pot. The nice thing about that was I was able to put it in the warmest sunniest spot in the yard. Considering the climate and the beautiful trees that abound here, I am quite pleased.
By now most of us in the U.S. have heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Whatever your opinion and thoughts of the movement it is bringing about conversation and the seeds of change. Our tiny little town has not been left out. We have our own little Occupy movement going on every Saturday afternoon. I was only able to make the first one so far. We marched down (and then back up)  the only main street in town stopping traffic chanting and startling the tourist in town. Here was my sign which reads, "We the People are too big to fail." I feel we should remember that whatever our differences, we the people of this country have the power to change things. We are the majority after all. It will take work and attention though.
At this particular Occupy movement, most of us are over the age of 40! It will take all of us not just the younger folks.
So life is crazy good at the moment.
I want to finish up the post by sharing a contemporary artist whose work I admire. Her name is Anna Youngers and you can view her website here. It is well worth checking out. Here is a sample of her beautiful work:
Anna Youngers: http://www.annayoungers.com

I will also be adding her link to my "Artists Who Inspire" list. I found her work on the "Women Painting Women" blog site which is also on my list.
That is all for this post. I will see how the progress is going for next week. Hopefully I will have a bit more of my own work to share.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau and Home Art School-Week 1

Philomena And Procne. Oil 24.49" X 31 1/2 ", Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

One of my favorite art blogs is Matthew Innis' Underpaintings.When you have a bit of time I heartily recommend you check his blog out. I can easily spend hours looking at and thinking about all the art and links and information he puts up on his blog. The following information, however, doesn't come from his blog but was a link from his Facebook wall. It was a link to an article on The Forgotten Female Artists of the 19th Century, written in Epoch Times. The first name mentioned caught my eye as her husband William Adolphe Bouguereau's work is quite popular at this time. She is none other than Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau and an accomplished artist in her own right. Her work is definitely in the same manner as her husbands but has differences that are her own. To be honest, from what I have seen of her work, I prefer her paintings over her husband's. A bit more information on her can be found with the link I attached to her name. Some images of her work can also be viewed either by googling her name and clicking on "Images" or at the Art Renewal Center website here.
Her history, what is accounted for,  is a bit colorful as is many women artists of the past. Perhaps the particular challenges and difficulties that these women have had to face requires a certain strength of mind and willingness to bend conventions.
Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau had quite a few accomplishments in her own right but definitely stands in the shadow of her famous husband, with pride, I might add. She appeared to have embraced that criticism. With her accomplishments in what would today be considered art marketing, one has to wonder about her influence on her husbands career!
The painting at the beginning of this post is a wonderful sample of her work. I obtained the picture from the Art Renewal Center website linked above.
The first week of the third year of my own humble education went well. I spent a bit more time than I had anticipated getting things set up and in place but I did manage to keep to the schedule I made. It felt good. Still a bit daunting but I am thinking that it will work nicely. I worked on a color study and took a picture of the beginning color stage:
It has moved beyond this point as I took this at the beginning of the week. I also worked on my first self-portrait, in graphite on drawing paper. Yikes! It was a bit startling to me to study-with-the-intent-to-draw my own middle-aged face. I wasn't critical of the way I look, it was just that taking note of the changes that have happened over time was a bit disconcerting at first. I guess I really don't spend a lot of time looking at my face. I now have the beginnings of a recognizable self  image looking back at me from the paper. Perhaps I will get used to it in time as I will be using myself as a model for portrait work to get the basics down before luring others into my studio.
I also enjoyed working on a personal composition. I am in the planning and sketching stage. There are quite a few I would like to do but I am starting with a painting that includes a self portrait for some of the same reasons I have mentioned before. I figured I can always revisit the work when my skills improve and I will have the same model (albeit a bit older!).  The painting will also require another plein air trip just up the road so hopefully the weather and tides will cooperate soon.
Week 2 will be a busy one and hopefully will get a bit more done now that things are set up and in place. Thanks to the folks that have left comments, they are appreciated. Blogger still will not let me respond to them in each post and I have not had any response from Blogger to my inquiries.
On to week 2! -Renee

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Home Schooling and Hug Point

After last week's post, I did indeed do what I came to the conclusion that I needed to do. I sat down and wrote it all out (with a cup of tea and a treat by my side). The final outcome was a schedule of schooling. Earlier this summer I had half jokingly printed up a sign and stuck it in my studio that reads: Atelier Manzanita.  I decided that since I was bemoaning the loss of the structure and instruction that school provided, I would create that for myself. The instruction will be a bit challenging though.
I am taking it in quarters or in about 8-10 week chunks with breaks in between. The weekly schedule at the moment is experimental. I have alternated days of color studies and cast drawing with figure drawing and days of working on composition and my own personal work.
It will require a bit of self discipline. I think I will feel less frustrated on my own if I am at least working on skills and improvement with regularity and dedication and not just jabbing here and there.
So, the new quarter of school at Atelier Manzanita starts Monday. I have been getting some of the tasks of daily living; yard work, preparing for the stormy season, cleaning, etc. done in preparation for being "back" at school.
We have had wonderful fall weather so far with one incredibly perfect day last week. The tides and weather cooperated so I went plein air painting on Wednesday. It was sunny blue skies and warm, with no breeze, which is not usual. The tides were a bit higher than I realized so I wasn't able to get to the area I had wanted to paint until it was too late. I wanted that warm golden afternoon light on the rocks around the caves. Here is Hug Point, one of my all-time favorite spots just a five minute drive up the road from us.

Hug Point gets its name from this particular spot. The beach was the easiest path of travel down the coast in early years. "Easiest" is relative though! The native people had carved hand holds in the soft sandstone rock and, at low tide, you traversed around the point by "hugging" the rock and using the hand and foot holds. Note the darker stained rock at the bottom? That is from the sea and is how high the water gets. If only you could see the rocks just below the road and the cold water with its wicked tides and floating logs, you would understand even more what an act of courage that was. Later they blasted a crude road in the rock which is still there. It also hugs the point and is not available during high tide as it will be underwater. Many people, cars (think model T), and alas, horses, have been washed off the road in the past.
There is a waterfall the spills onto the beach from the forest. It is a beautiful spot in a spectacularly beautiful area.
I am hoping I will get another chance this fall to paint at Hug Point. This week though the forecast says we have several storms lined up with the jet stream pointed right at us. Good indoor painting weather!
Next week, a report from my first week of school.
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