Jennifer Van Cor: Retreating to Provence
On our fourteenth year of retreating together at “Art Camp,” six women and I spent 10 days in Provence. Our usual retreats are spent on islands in the Penobscot Bay, but this past year we treated ourselves to two villas in the south of France. (Sadly two could not join us.] Three days were spent along the coast in Cassis and a week was spent in a renovated silk factory in St. Restitut.
During our first stay in Cassis, we rented inflatables and motored out to the Calanques, limestone cliffs along the coast just south of Marseille. Sun and shadow played on the water and narrow inlets beckoned, so we jumped off and took a swim.
“Motoring to the Calques” 20×30 acrylic on canvas.
These retreats are always special, and this year offered many new memorable experiences: stunning new vistas, new food, new swimming spots, and a renewal of shared friendships. Taking a tour of the back garden in St. Restitut, I was overwhelmed by the smell of fermenting grapes, the buzz of enormous black bees, the taste of a freshly picked fig, the trickle of a fountain, distant bird calls, the smell of a new kind of earth, and the vast blue Provencal sky. Whether we walked to town for morning croissants or swam in the Mediterranean, each experience brought new delights we shared as artist friends.
One of our morning walks for croissants was down one of many country lanes.The sun flickered though the arched branches of trees revealing glimpses of stone farm houses.
Morning Walk for Croissants” 24×18 acrylic on canvas.
Along the high path to St. Restitut, we traversed a ridge as the valley opened up with the soft glow of morning just touching the color of distant fields.
“Morning Glow” 30×40 acrylic on canvas.
Each painting of Provence is done with the joy that this shared experience evoked. The visual stimulus and the feeling of being connected to my fellow artists and friends has influenced the sense of color, space and the choice of content.
Jennifer Van Cor
Bobbi Heath: Painting My Dream of Maine
Everyone has a dream of what Maine means to them. For some it’s the lakes, for some it’s Katahdin, for others it’s the shore. For me, it’s the boats and harbors. The first time I saw these houses in Cozy Harbor, I’d been to a paint out with the Plein Air Painters of Maine and the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast. Plein air painting, popularized by the impressionists, means painting outside in the landscape, painting the scenes around you. We’d had a great time doing just that at Hendricks Head Light on Southport Island, near Boothbay Harbor. Someone remembered Oliver’s Restaurant in Cozy Harbor, and so we headed over there for lunch. Oliver’s is great, I recommend it.
One of the great things about painters getting together is the sharing of not only ideas about painting, but also places to paint. And so we moved on to a part of Cozy Harbor I wasn’t familiar with, the road that goes to Pratt’s Island. And once over the bridge to the island, looking back we saw the red lobster shack and houses. Several paintings were done on the spot, but there wasn’t room for all of us. I came back the next week, and set up my gear. My first painting focused on the red lobster shack.
Caption: “Cozy Harbor Inlet”, 11”X14”, oil on linen panel, 2014, Sold
As I was finishing my first day’s session, the most beautiful gaff rigged catboat sailed up to the little dock. And it had a red sail! I snapped a quick photo, and I knew I was going to have to do another painting of this scene, and include the boat.
Caption: “Bright Sail, Cozy Harbor”, 16”X20”, oil on linen panel, 2015, Sold
I love this scene. The houses on pilings, the reflections of the pilings, the abstract arrangement of the roofs, the little red shack, the idea of boats coming by, people getting on with their daily work, and enjoying living by the sea. So last fall, I started looking for another view, and found it while standing on the bridge. Only quick photos were available from that vantage point, and I came back several times to view it at different tide levels. Armed with the previous paintings, and my new reference photos, I painted a third version, and I’m not sure that I don’t like it best of all. I’ll probably be back there again this summer, and who knows what might happen?
Caption: “My Dream of Maine”, 20”X24”, oil on canvas, 2016, Available at Yarmouth Frame and Gallery
By Elizabeth Newman
Creative design, social sensibilities and mechanical know-how are where vision and intent entwine. That’s the everyday special for me as a picture framer and gallery owner. Then, every once in a while you experience life-changing exceptional special…
Sadly, within a matter of months last year we lost one of our most successful gallery artists and long-time framing client to cancer. All of us here looked forward to Anne coming in to frame her artwork. She brought the sunshine with her. We’d chat as we choose framing for her latest accomplishment and discuss what works to exhibit in the next show. It was a relationship that had begun sometime in early 2004. She had retired from the graphic arts business to paint full time. She delighted and struggled and more often than not she mastered her art.
Anne Macleod left behind an adoring husband, family and community. For a year we worked closely with her husband to select works and create a retrospective exhibit and sale of her already beautifully framed body of artwork. We had planned a three day event to sell as many of the 57 pieces as possible. It became an astonishing two hour whirlwind opening reception and sale of 53 beautiful pieces and a total of $21,000.00! 100% of the proceeds went to the children’s educational fund at their church where Anne had taught Sunday school.
We pulled every tool we possess out of the box and put them to the test for this event. It was the most satisfying hosting experience we’ve ever had. The honor and privilege to touch so many hearts was unforgettable. But, then again, so did Anne.
Here are the before, during and after images of this extraordinary event.
“Pastels allow me the opportunity to paint the play of light and dark, of form and texture, and to achieve balance and design. I am inspired by the magic and nature of Maine – the lovely place I call home.” Anne Macleod
The image we used for the invitation. “Blueberry Barrens”
“Farmers Bouquet” One of my favorites.
Mei Selvage : A Brief Comparison of Asian and Western Art
Mei Selvage (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Asian and Western art have many differences because they are rooted in their own cultural backdrops. Thus, it is challenging for Westerners to interpret Asian art. As a contemporary Chinese artist, I will use my painting experience as an example to share some key differences between Asian and Western art in a general sense. The main differences include an artist’s relationship with the painting objects, the background, and the focus.
Let us use the flower painting as an example. The flower painting is typically categorized in the “still life” theme in Western art. Western artists often paint what is literally in front of their eyes. This means to paint blossoms in a vase on a table and the immediate surrounding such as a tablecloth and wallpapers. Indeed, everything is “still” and prearranged. Artists are observing the objects as bystanders. Nothing is wrong with this approach.
Meanwhile, Chinese artists would argue that there is nothing “still” about flowers. Art is foremost a means to cultivate the mind and manifest the inner spirit of the artist. Therefore, learning flower painting is never as simple as mastering techniques. By painting archetypal flowers, Chinese artists are embodying and expressing feelings represented by these flowers, such as a lotus for purity, a plum for perseverance, or a peony for abundance. Flowers, the artist, and the painting are essentially one entity from the Chinese perspective.
Constraints are another hallmark of Chinese painting. This is seen in the economy of colors, brush strokes, and large proportion of negative space. In comparison, the background — especially shadows — in Western art offers illusory life-like effects, but they can also reduce viewers’ participation when a painting is full of details. Thus, Pablo Picasso purposely painted “Boy Leading a Horse” with a minimalist landscape background to highlight the archetypal figures in the foreground. These types of paintings reveal a universal truth: the hidden reality is more important than the perceived reality, and the archetypes are more revealing than particular snapshots.
In my flower paintings, I focus on lyrics and rhythms instead of light effects. For example, the darkened overlapping among leaves and dancing leaves conveys a sense of lyrics and rhythms. Moreover, my paintings’ backgrounds are often unapologetically minimalist yet engaging. Sometimes, less is more.
Without a doubt, my creative inspirations originate from Chinese art, literature, and philosophies. They add an intentional Chinese accent to my paintings. At the same time, my paintings do not speak pure Chinese because I use Western art mediums such as acrylic, oil and canvas, which can connect to a Western audience more easily. Essentially, my paintings aim to translate the East to the West, ancient to contemporary.
David Costello : Brunch with Winslow Homer and Whatever Else
By David Costello
One of my favorite quotes from Winslow Homer is tacked to the wall in my studio, it reads; “When you paint, try to put down exactly what you see. Whatever else you have to offer will come out anyway.”
That quote from Homer has lodged itself in my spirit and it surfaces often at the oddest of times. It popped up recently as I was ordering breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants. When you find a place that makes great Eggs Benedict, on a consistent basis… well, you just keep going back. I’m not entirely sure why the quote came to mind at that moment, but this writing may serve as an explanation.
The “whatever else” in my opinion, is the heart of the matter. Of course as a visual artist “seeing” is important. But what one sees depends entirely on where one’s focus lies.
In the past five years my attention has turned to creating Landscapes. I am inspired by the beauty of nature that surrounds us here in Maine but my vision is not entirely directed there. I am convinced we can see more through the eyes of our hearts. The landscapes that shape our “whatever else’s” reside deep in the heart and can only be accessed by focusing there. What makes us uniquely us, is seen and experienced there.
Through the eyes of our hearts we sometimes see more clearly… for it is in our hearts where we find the substance of all our hopes, where we discover the evidence of things not seen. In essence, when an artist draws from this place, he is sourcing from what is invisible and making it visible – it’s the “whatever else” that makes the artwork unique and elevates it from being just a picture – it becomes an expression of the heart, and thus it reflects the essence of it’s creator.
Everyone has “whatever else” within them. Getting in touch with it though can be scary… often painful. The very phrase “whatever else” is descriptive and scary; It is all inclusive. Bundled there together are all the joys and all the painful brokenness – the victories as well as the failures of a human life.
“Whatever else” doesn’t just randomly show up in the work of an artist. Homer makes it sound easy, but its not. The artist must pay his dues by spending time embracing all that is found in that place where “whatever else” resides. It takes a lot of time and courage but healing can be found there. Regardless the subject matter, a successful work of art will always reflect the time spent in that place. In that sense it is natural and effortless even unintentional, but it is a matter of being, not doing.
So why is Homer in my head when I order eggs? Perhaps “whatever else” is like Hollandaise sauce. The sauce transforms plain old poached eggs into Eggs Benedict. The sauce can be tricky to make, but the effort and time spent making it is well worth it. The sauce elevates the eggs from mere poached status and places them squarely above all egg dishes. It changes everything… breakfast becomes brunch and brunch includes exotic drinks that cause one not to care so much about the exorbitant bill.
An Egg becomes “Haute Cuisine” – A picture becomes “Fine Art.”