Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays

I thought you all deserved some particularly tasty treats for the holidays.While I recuperate, paint, and get ready for the transition to the new site, oh and do the holidays... here're some goodies just for you. I want you all to know how lovely this year has been just to have you stopping by, maybe saying hi, or sending a hello by email. And how much fun it is to visit your online homes. I really appreciate my online community. I wish you all the best the season has to offer and all good things in the New Year. I'll be around, just in the "studio cave" awhile catching up. Feel free to say hello, or send an email. I'll stick my head up every now and then until I get caught up. My love to you all. I wish the wishes that you all have, could be mine to give to you. Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa Baby

As promised, the House on Eagle Street. Forget the Mansions on St. Charles, the City Park Stroll, or the late Al Copeland's Lakefront extravaganza. Head over to Carrollton near the bend in the river for some truly good and soulful Christmas lights. In years past this house has also had Elvis on the near side, but it looks dark this year. No problem, it looks like he has put a pirate ship right in the front with Santa and the reindeer. Must be all those pirates off Somalia who can now be pursued on land, (according to the latest Marine newsletter). I think he could take them.

Every year, I looked forward to seeing this house. The man has been doing it up for years. I suspect he has grandchildren, or maybe he just does it for his own fun. I have seen him stringing the lights, but never had the nerve to ask. In any case, I love the faceted lights showing through the bevels on the doors on St, Charles, and it is marvelous to ride under the oaks and through lights in City Park, and yes, the Copeland house was as loud and brash as Al ever was. But there is something about this cozy house, just off the tracks on Oak Street ( home of the recent Festival of the Sandwich) that makes me smile. Every time. We turn the radio to some local music and cruise slowly by. Smiling and looking to see what he has done this time.

Then off we go for gingerbread and a beverage and people watch a little as the streetcar goes by near the Camelia Grill. Not Manhattan, not Main Street. Just Eagle Street. And an unknown man with plenty of holiday cheer.

Do you have a certain house in your part of the world that is just fun to see all decorated?

( Thanks for all your email and comments. I am slowly recuperating. )

Friday, December 12, 2008

Santa Came Early

Delight, sheer delight is so rare, but here we have it. This is what folks woke up to yesterday in New Orleans. While my body tries to heal itself, I hope you will just sit back and think about the magic of a clean fresh snow in a semi tropical town where some children have never even seen it.

This is the house where I rode out the storm. It's only a block from the river, but has the unique distinction of being nine feet above sea level. That nine feet is very significant. My friend whose family owns this home, sent me tons of happy photos of the snow. And told me my little McGehee Girls were out on St. Charles laughing and playing in it. The streetcars are draped now with holiday greenery and big red bows. Snow was gently falling.

It is a magical place, New Orleans.

I can almost smell the gingerbread. And I am promised pictures of a favorite decorated house off Oak Street.

So a little delight. More tea and tissues here. And me wishing you a lovely weekend. Yep. Go find some naughty. I'll be here with the tissues hopefully painting a bit too. And smiling at snowflakes dancing.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life Won

Ahh, those pesky lungs of mine, we're waiting for tea water to boil. On days this happens, or weeks, I have to just do one thing and then the next and treat my self rather gently. I am sure anyone can relate.

There you are rearing to tear into a million things, and your body just says, uh, nope. So more tea, more apples, more meds. I would rather be painting strawberries, or splashing in watercolor puddles. Or even writing content for the new site. Or phoning up that curator, or that gallery owner. Humph.

What do you do, when your mind is willing,but your body says no? Sheesh, that fluffy pillow is looking mighty good.

Harrumph, AND hmph. We do not like this at all. Oops, the tea water is boiling...gotta go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Will Win Today?

Transitions are rarely smooth or easy, no matter what they say. Believe me, I have been through a gazillion of them. You would think it would get easier. It does not. Only the ability to recognize them and deal with them as such does. What's hard for others to see sometimes, is what the underlying map is. We' re talking about art here right?

Yes. And no. We are talking about art, everything is about art with me, except when it isn't. ( Smiling at that.) A working artist's work is always in movement, one hopes. Who wants stale? We want finished, but not stale. The pumpkin cake won yesterday, partly. The cream has to dry so I can finish the whitest white up on top. And that strawberry thing is so talking to me. Mouth is watering. And while I am painting cakes, the larger work is still in attendance, and all those other things I alluded to. So what wins on days or weeks like these, when everything is in motion, everything is calling for your attention and things are changing?

What do you choose to do? Especially when the stakes are getting higher? And do you take the time to blog about it?

Hm, sipping tea. Thinking. And I am thinking. You stay the course and modify, just a bit. And so here you see an honest look at competing elements of an artist's life. What wins today? Well, Pen has been waiting patiently. Brush is chomping at the bit, and Pencil has me on a schedule. And life, well, life is calling too. I think the best, any of us can do, is show up, do our best, and hope there is a little bit of cake along the way. Yep. I think the best thing we can shoot for, is to remember to be kind to ourselves and remember what is important. That goal. That why we do it. And just do one thing, then the next and then the next. Now, you better believe by the end of the day, those strawberries and that cake...yep, they'll be gone.

So what wins today? I'm hoping I do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deep Cleansing Breaths

These things you see, the tea, the apple, will be gone soon because I am munching on them as I sit and write this morning. Life and stuff won yesterday, not the cakes, not the paintings. Those I get to do today. But here's what's cool: I finished two big tasks that I had promised myself I would. And that feels so freeing. So good. They weren't easy, but they were a step forward. You see, there are changes coming.

Someone has a book out about frogs and tackling the hard things. I think the idea is to do the tough stuff, get it over with and then do the next thing. Behind the scenes I have been doing just that. I am not a technical wonk, I am an artist. So I have some great guys doing what they do to make me a better virtual home. I am hoping you will bear with me during the transition. It may take a bit of doing. I have no idea what exactly is involved, but it is going to look so much better and will be easier for people to use.

So yesterday, Pencil won. We did things that involved orderly ducks, or ordering ducks, or , oh, just getting the big ducks on their way. But Brush and Pen are wanting a rematch today. Yep. So here I am, sipping tea, eating an apple, taking deep cleansing breaths, while they are pleading their cases. Both are very good at it...yes, I hear you.. and on the other hand.... uh oh, Brush is opening the refrigerator... no fair...

Pen how are you going to top that?

Honestly, it's like central casting around here, diva, diva, diva...demanding little buggers. No we are not ordering from Craft Services. This is NOT Hollywood. Seriously. Yes, we can have music...Okay , I 'm coming...gotta go folks...they're union scale, but pushy...

Monday, December 8, 2008

No Nuns, They Had No Nuns

When I went to Main Street Bakery yesterday, they had sold all the Chocolate Nuns. Yes, there was a run on nuns in Dallas this Sunday. Hm, could it be the yule tide rush? Would it, could it, be some special religious zeal? Or just a chocolate fetish? No matter. We found these: Pumpkin Cheesecake and , oh yes, Strawberries...on a sweet buttery cake... more red, but even juicier...Yeah, Brush is jumping up and down. Spoon is at the ready.

"Hey, it's Organizing Monday, we have ducks to get in a row," Pencil says, tapping me on the shoulder.

"Yep, you have some copy to write for the new site, very important stuff. And oh, life is calling too. AND what about those other paintings?" Says, Pen.

So I am looking at these tasty treats, and thinking of all the stuff, that stuff you know that makes the week go and absolutely positively MUST get done. All the projects. 3 Most Important Tasks and all.

Hm. Cake or stuff? How disciplined am I?

We'll find out won't we?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Naughty Friday Red

Red Orchids, 40" x 60" Watercolor on d'Arches Paper

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.”~Georgia O'Keeffe

Red has passion, power, and life. It is one of my favorite colors to paint. All of my major series have a portion of red. Except the wetlands series, but it has orange. My earliest Fortuney Series is based upon a luxurious piece of red and silver Italian watered silk. The Orchid series, the series this piece is from has two dominant pieces in red. This one and one I keep for private collection. Both passion pieces, both benchmark works.

This painting was purchased by a man for his wife, he bought it for its vibrance. I painted it because of the light on this flower in this place at this particular time. The Hymen Conservatory was in Audubon Park. Built and funded by private funds, the greenhouse was one of those old fashioned oasis, open to the public, cared and tended by an orchid master, who taught me some of the names, and brought this one to my attention. It was a rare and lovely place in a park designed by Olmstead, he of Central Park Fame. The Conservatory is gone, replaced by the new clubhouse to the upgraded golf course. The orchid master retired. He and I met afterwards many times, when he cared for my friend Abby's orchids at her house. We three were captured in the web of orchids. Anyone who collects them knows what I am talking about.

But on this day, the red was aglow in a peaceful haven. I sat immediately, began to sketch listening to the birds. Hearing the orchid master pad about, watering this, feeding that. I was focused on the strength of this amazing array. The color pulled me in. The shapes held me in awe. I came back and back to capture this. I used the photos too. But the days in the conservatory, that oasis in the park, are really what I was painting. Treasure. Red lighted treasure in the middle of my park. It was like painting a tide pool of life.

Take some time and look at all the parts, all the variations of reds. There's life and death, still and moving, reality and abstraction. Then notice too, that smack dab in the center is a very still green leave. Dead center. I was experimenting with a Matisse challenge at the time. Composition and dynamics. Can you organize a dead center composition and make it dance?

Well, yes, yes you can.

Now go be naughty your own selves. And put some red in your life.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Raspberry Twists

Raspberry Cheesecake with White Chocolate Star 100.00 plus shipping 5" x 7" oil on archival linen board

Raspberry Knockout ( sold ) 5" x 7" oil on archival linen board

"Painting is not only to copy the object, it is to sieze a harmony between numerous relations."~Paul Cezanne

Raspberries mounded under a glistening glaze, nuts in profusion, and finally red. And cobalt violet. Two cheesecakes, two forms, two similar color families. But again, a difference. So they give a slightly different message. To me the first one looks contained, full bodied, but only bursting out at the top. Potential. The second one, the party is in progress. And let everyone join in. Nuts are spilling out all over the place. Yeah, probably some champagne involved.

Painting is relationships. Each stroke is interlinked with all of the others. And they all feed the central idea of a piece. I painted these one right after the other and finished up the light touches this morning after the darker bits had dried somewhat, so the whites would leave the pinks and reds alone. The oil is very buttery and it flows. But I wanted to paint them as close together as I could, the palette is the same. However, those bits and flurries of all those nuts, are almost formless, random triggers of disruption on the surface. On the other, that surface is smooth, calm. It is an exercise in syncopation. You know, everything is almost the same, but scooched just a bit toward a variation. Being able to make that kind of change within a restriction, is very important to me.

Cezanne said that the way to paint an orange is to paint several of them at once so that the whole is revealed just a bit in each one. Raspberries. Red. Add them to a rich cheesecake and you have a potential license to licentiousness. Passion. That's what is being painted. It would be fun to do a large piece using raspberry dessert variations from Laduree. Hm. The overall impact would be almost too much. It's the succulence of red, and then he does such things to them. Hm. There's a thought.

These two small pieces are little bits of passion. Glimmers, touchstones, a slightly sinful gift to delight one's palette. And I like them. They are a hint of possibilities. I like to paint red. I like to play with proportions of it. Too much, not enough, how far from red of passion to red of anger, or red of patriotism. Red of church. Red of vibrant healing.

I think tomorrow I'll show you a large red piece I did, that a husband bought for his wife. Red. One of my favorite colors to paint.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sugar and Spice

Chocolate Praline Cheesecake (sold) 5" x 7" oil on linen archival board

Gingerbread Angel Spice Cake (100.00 plus shipping) 5" x 7" oil on linen archival board

It is beginning to feel very much like the holidays, we have cake. These are from yesterday's work. Some chocolate dripping and an angel I think about to go singing. Both a romp with form. Delicious buttery oils. Each distinctively different in feel.

Someone emailed me over the weekend asking if I really did a painting a day. He was having some problems finishing pieces at that rate. Lots of sketches, but not so many paintings. Finishing them and staying inspired was his concern. I said yes, these small pieces are done in a day, sometimes I do more than one piece depending on what's going on. But that's the scale and the scope of this particular series. They are a la prima pieces intended to be quickly complete, whole , not extensively studied. The time frame is part of the design.

Working like that demands the impact of the piece be known in the first 30 seconds, maybe a minute. Just like quick gesture drawing of nudes. Those first moments with the pose or the subject, determine the impact, the attitude of the entire whole of the pose, or the piece. You nail it right then before making a single mark. Read that again. The entire outcome is decided in 30 seconds, maybe a minute. That essence.

On a nude it is the shape of the spine, the line it makes, everything leads from that. On a simple cake (some not so simple) it is the attitude or an idea, a summary. In these two pieces one is more like Puccini's Tosca, dramatic, the other is barely there, more like a whisper or a promise of a song to come, softer like Debussy. One commands the space, dares you, one invites you in to dream, hides the spice beneath the calm. Those ideas are in each color decision, each stroke of the brush. Sometimes it is the absolute presence of color, sometimes it is the restraint and what you do NOT paint. Believe me, choosing not to paint something, retraining is as much a part of the process as the painting. Sometimes even more important.

I chose these two to kick off our foray into the series this time to show you: Same amount of time, same basic shape, worlds of difference. Equally very much themselves. Their essence. Sugar and spice. Looking. More importantly, SEEING is as important as using your brush.

( Don't forget, you can email me a selection from the archives if you've something particular you'd like to have.) today? Yep. Raspberries. Our favorite.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ahh, The Land of Cake

Art collectors buy touchstones. They buy trophies. They buy art that reflects some part of themselves. It sets up a resonance. Look on your walls. You will see parts of yourself looking right back at you. I started painting cakes over a year ago. Who knew that people really needed and wanted cake in their lives and on their walls? Well they do, and we do. Look at art through the ages. You'll find ample supplies of food paintings. Rich, abundant, succulent food, painted by the masters.

All art is food of a sort. It is there when we most need nourishment, renewal, fortification. Inspiration. Support for an endeavor.

These cakes are special cakes, made by request. They will serve a most important purpose. That is between my client and me, but let me just say this, they will serve this client as they served me, because they are actually more, much more than cake. They are the idea behind the cake. And there's the challenge. Yes, cake, but transcendence too. So they will be especially embued with as much spiritual, exuberant content as I can muster. Form and color, textures, contrasts, choices, all come to the service of an idea. A delicious one at that.

And yes, I now have something Rrred to paint. We're smiling here. Brush is just finishing his Tai Chi, " Ahhh, cake", says he, "Let's get to it."

What kind of talisman do you have near you? What kind of art do you live with?

Monday, December 1, 2008

What is True?

Or better, what is real? A photograph, a journal entry or the memory not recorded, yet experienced hands on? For an artist, the better question is what is true for me? That is really what we're after. Just as in great works of fiction, great works of art deal with a truth, in time, in place, and in the person of an artist. Hm, That's kind of serious thinking for a Monday morning isn't it, Jan? Well, yes, it is. That's what I get for falling asleep reading Susan Sontag.

We're really just about to venture back into cake land. Cause there's truth in cake too.

But I spent most of last week ( when I wasn't feverish, miserable and in bed) working in my archives. Documenting, sorting, and putting source material into respective work categories: drawings, oils, watercolors, special projects, collage, like that. And I tagged some of my journals for location so I could mine them for narration on the work as well as dig for meaning in the current work. This is something that is not easy. Used to be, isn't anymore.

Well, the truth is, this is Monday. And it is way too early to be so serious. While one part of my brain is wrestling with such matters of truth and themes, another part is oddly excited because I am going to be painting cake. Pure sensual pleasure. It is probably the effect of the nasty cold I caught. These will be for sale for 100.00 each plus shipping during December. First come first serve. ( Hah.) A client has commissioned several so I thought I would do a few more to offer up to all of you. But only for the next couple of weeks.

So for Organizing Monday, I am heading to the bakeries....yes, top of my 3 Most Important Tasks is to buy a Chocolate Nun. If you look through the archives here and find a piece from the Let Them Eat Cake series you would really like to have, email me and I will work it in. Raspberries, wanting to paint raspberries, something RRRed.....

( And thank you all, I am feeling better. )