Satin and Feathers

August's "Draw!" session
at Lowe Mill (I missed July's, having been in Chicago that weekend) began with a somber but elegant black vintage [above], then the theme dramatically (and colorfully) shifted when our lovely model Kelli stepped out in a bright blue burlesque outfit, complete with flowing feather bustle [below]. I always enjoy this type of shift. . . it is not only the pleasant surprise, but being able to go from depicting one mood to another back-to-back is a marvelous artistic exercise. . .


Rippling Commission

The first time Jamie and Andy Hoffman
commissioned a painting, giving me more or less free rein, the result was View from a Garching Window. When they returned for a new painting recently, they mentioned that they particularly enjoyed looking at the Japanese maple in their yard, pictured a scene with watery reflections, and would prefer that the palette be filled with blues and greens, but encouraged me, above all, to take their suggestions wherever my imagination led me. An artist could not ask for finer friends or a more liberating prompt!

My first instinct when beginning Maple Ripples [above] was to contemplate the characteristics of a Japanese maple-- the long, delicate leaves and the elegantly curving trunk. The Hoffman maple, specifically, has a double trunk that arches into an ellipse. It occurred to me that my abstract style would not allow for the details of every leaf, but that I could depict a few curling leaves at the corners of the canvas like rippling reflections and suggest the boldness and mystery of the tree, its essence, with a dramatic angular flare of leaf-like shapes over the trunks. I recalled from an article about the art of bonsai that the tree was often placed off to the side of its pot because the center symbolizes the meeting place between heaven an earth-- a place which should be left unoccupied. Though the center of my painting has been occupied by abstractions for aesthetic reasons, the basic notion of placing the tree far off-center remains. The Chinese advice to internalize a scene before painting it, not worrying so much about depicting it as it looks but about grasping its spirit in one's strokes, also came to the forefront of my thoughts.

In all, I wanted to present Jamie and Andy with a painting that was at once soothing and dramatic. . . a boldly harmonious balance of organic wonder, the abstraction that has become something of a signature for me, and a suggestion of Eastern philosophy. It is still drying at present, but I greatly look forward to sending it off to be enjoyed in its new home by the end of the week!

Unique Views of Huntsville 2011, Art On Display at Lowe Mill, and More. . .

Last night was a lively one at the Huntsville Art League's new Gallery On the Square; Unique Views of Huntsville 2011 opened with a packed reception [below], and though the show is not being held in the Museum of Art this year, it is just as elegant and high-profile as ever. Accompanying the many paintings on display, including my work At the Computer [contemplated by its subject, Nik, above], were catered dishes from Huntsville's Cafe Berlin, wine, and live jazz. As part of the Unique Views show, HAL is displaying even more artwork, including Life in the 60's, at its main gallery on L&N Drive. The show will remain up until the 28th of August.

[Of course, being so close to Big Spring Park, Nik and I followed the reception with a walk around the pond, below.]

In addition to the Unique Views show (and long-standing displays at Reflectives Frame and Art Gallery and Blu Healing Spa), Sherbrooke Street From the 17th Floor is being featured in an Ascribing Artists exhibit on the third floor of Lowe Mill [below] for the month of August.

Last but not least, I have posted a new discussion topic this month on the Escape Into Life Blog relating to the "paint and sip" trend. Click here to read the post and share your thoughts.


A Weekend in Chicago

The Windy City was where I spent the last days of July. I was there specifically to commemorate the life of Escape Into Life founder Chris Al-Aswad, celebrate the past and future of EIL, and meet fellow contributors to the online arts magazine that I am so proud to be affiliated with. I had known Chris only through Twitter and EIL, but even online, his intellect, taste, writing, and the way he was collecting an international team of contributors touched me deeply. His death had come as a terrible shock; when an invitation to Chicago arrived from his family, I knew I had to go.

In addition to the joy of meeting many wonderful people whom I had previously only known online, I was able to walk all over Chicago, fill my eyes with as much art as possible in two and a half days, and snap hundreds of pictures. . . it was a truly a remarkable weekend.

It's as if the 70's have returned!

One of the many rooms at the Chicago Art Institute

Lavazza-- a coffee worth drinking every morning.

The surreal beauty of the beach of Lake Michigan.

Sunset over the pier.

Aerial view of "The Bean".

Marilyn: it may be in somewhat poor taste, but the people keep coming in droves.

With EIL's Teia Pearson at the largest fountain I have ever seen.