Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

Cheers for a
Happy New Year 2012!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Studio Sale

Art D'Elke presents:
Holiday Show and Sale II

Paintings and Collages by
Sandra Kaplan

Sunday, December 18th, 12 to 4 pm

Select from Sandra Kaplan's plein air paintings, some from her recent trip to Tuscany, along with collages created from her collection of treasures, and her collaged cards.

Kendra Custer from Anthologie Framing will be on hand to help you pick the perfect mats and frames for the unframed pieces.

Location: Sandra Kaplan Studio
St Francis de Sales School building
235 S. Sherman Street
(Alameda and Sherman Streets)
Denver, CO 80209

Produced by Art D'Elke, studio and Gallery projects orchestrated by art consultant Elke McGuire and marketing expert Denise Robert.

Info: Denise Robert at 303-368-5208 or

We are able to accept most credit cards.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Collages

                                                                     "About Time"
                                                                   "Strange Breed"
                                                                       "Godiva 3"
                                                         "Self Portrait As A Sunflower"
                                                                       "Dr Caligari"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Color Studies

With a firm grounding in Josef Albers theory, for many years I've expanded my understanding of color with painted studies.

The study above uses various yellows and reds, several with the same color name but from different brands. These have been painted over black stripes to show variations in transparency. Towards the top of the canvas, white has been mixed with each color. Towards the bottom, each color has been mixed with black.

My paintings have almost always been highly saturated. Recently, I've been attracted to more subtle hues, but find them a challenge.

The next two studies are investigations into these low key colors, attempts to combine tans and grays with bright colors. Perhaps my next study will eliminate the fully saturated hues completely.

One of my challenges will be to create an exciting, yet non-illusionistic space with these grayed tones. Another may be the elimination of the complimentary color combinations that I often use as a way of adding excitement and emotional content.

The stripes in the next canvas play with the contrast between flat and textured color areas, contrasts of light and dark values, and near compliments which aren't adjacent.

The balance of warm to cool is in an opposite proportion to my usual one, which would be mostly cool to a lesser amount of warm.

I've also tried to include some colors that I normally find unpleasant, using a balance in the amount of each color and adjacent value relationships to make the colors integral to the whole.

Following the stripe painting is an entire canvas painted with transparencies, glazes of color layered one on the other.

First, horizontal stripes were painted, about 3/4 inch apart. Then more substantial (in the amount of pigment) stripes were painted, 3/4 inch apart, vertically.

The white spaces between the overlapping stripes were painted black, to increase the illusion of transparency. I was surprised at the intensity and drama of the "stained glass"effect.

My original intention of understanding the colors created by the overlapping transparencies offered me some pleasant surprises too.

In the last image, shown below, hard and soft edges and seemingly random color selections create interesting spatial relationships.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tea Wrappers and Painting

A rather abstract waterscape seemed compositionally complete, but totally unsatisfying. It said nothing that I wanted to communicate, nothing unique to me. So it sat in my studio, face to the wall, waiting.

Simultaneously, I was working on some collages, and also spending some time on acrylic color studies about transparency and space. My friend Denise had recently visited, and she had purchased a collage called "Tea Party". I had also been collecting the wrappers from tea bags, intrigued by their colors.

My friend Bill had commented during another studio visit that the painting shamefully facing the wall needed a geometric element, and voila! I knew the solution.

My 24" X 60" painting, with a collaged grid of superimposed tea bag wrappers, can be seen to the right.Weird spacial connections occurred at the junction of organic and geometric images with colors appearing and disappearing depending on their similarity or difference to what was behind or adjacent. I suppose other connections could be made to the friends who donated their tea bags, or to the ritual cup of tea my husband and I have each evening. My life outer and inner lives colliding.

Two More Weeks/ Cabbage

OK, I promise to only write about this again when the cabbages are ready for harvest, but I feel as if I'm watching Jack's (from the beanstalk) garden grow. When will the giant show up? These gorgeous leaves, which belong to the most mundane of vegetables, compel me to check in several times a day, and seem to have grown each time I visit.

When painting foliage in the past, I have often remarked that it seemed much easier to paint plants than to grow them. I'm re-thinking my position, with the possible exception of okra.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Weeks to Giant Cabbages

June 13, 2011 Giant leaves of purple cabbage.
May 31, 2011 purple cabbages.
June 13, 2011 Amazing growth in two weeks for my purple cabbages. That story about Jack and the Giant - was it about beans or cabbages? Notice the beans growing in the upper left of the photo, and the arugula right behind the cabbage. That much growth was unexpected, too.

I'm amazed at this growth. But even more amazed that, after about 20 years of not having a vegetable garden due to lack of a sunny location, I'm so excited every morning to water my vegetables, to do research about dealing with leafminers, and watch as seeds germinate and tiny plants poke out of the ground.

This growth process seems so magical, not unlike the process of watching a painting emerge on my canvas, take form and struggle through its adolescent phase before being a fully formed, satisfying expression.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Demo And Dialog- ASLD at Whole Foods

May 21, representing the Art Students League of Denver, I did a Demo and Dialog at the Whole Foods Market in Capitol Hill, Denver, for an audience of about 30 people.

It was my first outdoor painting experience of the season - sort of a "warm-up for my Plein Air class that begins June 1 through the ASLD.

Demonstrating , to me, is always fraught with anxiety. It's not that I'm shy about speaking to groups - I'm not. And I enjoy showing my set up for Plein Air, because it's a bit different than that used by most artists. A Feather-Lite easel, a Pac-Seat stool, a small Masterson palette with a sponge. etc. But each time I begin a painting, I try to forget all that I know and begin a-fresh, seeking some connection with my subject unlike my previous work. I don't have rules. I don't have a standard way to begin - things I do first, or after. I enjoy the freshness a struggle often imparts to my work, and an occasional discovery of a new way of working. But I do look for something that moves me, and occasionally try to clarify what that "something" is. No surrounding city-scape, visible from my painting location and which was supposed to be the subject of my demo on the Whole Foods patio, inspired me.

So I just dove into a painting of the vegetable plants, and soon was as lost as my students frequently seem. The drawing kept changing, the colors wouldn't work spatially, the air was dry and my paints kept drying too. I had two hours, an audience, and an ego that wanted to produce a recognizable, balanced, well composed image.

My solution was to do a new painted line drawing in a dark color over my unstructured mess. The results, which pleased me, are above.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Fibonacci Garden, Almost

Our backyard is surrounded by trees, creating shade so complete that to grow anything , I need to beg and plead. Even hostas think this deep shade too unwelcoming, and refuse to grow. Painting vegetables and flowers is so much easier than growing them!

So when the grass next to our driveway (in the front of our home) died from too much sun and a lack of water, I began to plan our container vegetable garden.

I found concrete planter blocks at a garden supply store which I used to create raised containers, hoping that passing canine friends would leave their messages elsewhere. These were placed directly on the soil, and surrounded by rocks. I chose a pattern of fibonacci numbers, placing the blocks in groups of 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 - although the store ran out of my blocks and I'll need to wait a few more weeks to complete the "8" group.

Fibonacci numeric sequences are found in so many growing things, from cactae, artichokes and sunflowers to the human body. The golden ratio of 1 to 1.618, from which the fibonacci sequence derives, is the beauty defining ratio in the history of art, and both have frequently inspired my paintings. What better design inspiration for my first vegetable growing endeavor in many years?

So now the plants are in the ground, the seeds sewn, and I'm crossing my fingers that all is not washed away by the rain that has been a constant all day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ouch! Creation And Destruction Go Hand In Hand

Above is the first state of a replacement canvas for "Maps"

After considering the whole painting, it was necessary to make many changes to incorporate the canvas into the existing whole of "Maps" (see below).

The image above, "Maps, is an oil and acrylic on 10 canvases, part of a series of paintings called,"Some Thoughts About The Weather", begun in 2001. This section is 54" X 90".

Originally shown at the Arvada Center in Arvada, Colorado, later shown at the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, I have been adding to the series (painting additional canvases), and subtracting from it (sales) ever since it's initial exhibition.

Several of the canvases above had been sold, and as a client wanted this whole section, I was asked to replace the sold sections with similar and compatible images.

The first painting I completed was state one, shown at the top of this page. For about 30 years I have been painting color studies like this one, usually in conjunction with a painting. I would try to devise color sequences for the painting, or try out the value or saturation of a color before using it. Occasionally, I'd just get so involved in the study that I'd forget the "painting" for awhile. As a consequence, during the past several years, these studies have sometimes been incorporated into my final pieces as an integral part of my process, as the canvas at the top was in the "Maps" piece.

But once I placed the canvas (that I liked very much) in the context of the whole, it jumped out. I've so often told students that no one wants to buy just a piece of a painting, or cut out a chunk to hang on the wall. The painting needs to work as a total statement. And here I was, faced with the prospect of painting over just the area that I most enjoyed. The yellows and some of the oranges jumped. A dark purple rectangle in the upper left of the canvas was between a bright yellow and an orange, and although interesting when the piece was alone, was too much of an eye catcher in combination.

So, ouch! I ignored my fears and dove in, eagerly destroying my favorite part of the smaller canvas to complete the whole of "Maps". Each time I changed one color, everything else was off balance, and required further adjustments. Along the way, I discovered a number of queer and satisfying colors that I had never used before. And I was proud of allowing myself to destroy an area I liked and the awareness of new colors I gained.

The second piece above was the re-painted canvas.

Workshop in Tuscany

Acrylic and oil painting, 24" X 30", "Lamole", view from the Restaurant "Lamole" where we will have lunch on our Chanti day-trip.

Only one spot left for those of you considering my workshop at Abbondanza Toscana this September 17 to the 27 in Tuscany. Enticing painting trips are planned to Chianti, a private garden inside the walls of Lucca, Devil's Bridge and a Mediterranean fishing village just south of the Cinque Terre. Plus wonderful food and wine from our private chef at Selva. Don't miss this.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"The Mystery of Picasso", a Movie

Above, Pablo Picasso

Join film critic Robert Denerstein and me for the last movie in our 2011 spring series, "Art Goes To The Movies", at the Art Student League of Denver, 200 Grant St., Denver CO, 6:30 PM, Thursday, March 31. Watch a 1955 must see movie, "The Mystery of Picasso". All are welcome. $12 ASLD members, $15 non- members, includes introduction, discussion and popcorn.

Those of you who came to the first session of this series in February know that we were unable to show this movie due to technical difficulties. For you this will be a make-up class.

For the rest of you, a rare opportunity to see Picasso working through his painting issues as we watch. Creatively filmed using a translucent material as canvas, only Picasso's brush strokes mysteriously appear, seemingly detached from the painter's hand.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Seraphine" A Movie

Above, A Painting by Seraphine de Senlis
Above, photo of the real Seraphine Louis
Join film critic Robert Denerstein and me tonight, 6:30, at the Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant St., Denver, to view and discuss the movie "Seraphine". Popcorn provided. $12 members, $15 non-members.

In the second to last episode of "Art Goes To The Movies", we watch a 2008 film by Martin Provost about the life and career of a French maid called to paint. She often even concocted her own paints. Remarkably before her time and self taught, Seraphine was also known as "Seraphine de Senlis". An art bio-pic not to be missed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Basquiat", A Movie By Julian Schnabel

Above: The real Jean-Michel Basquiat

Join Film Critic Robert Denerstein and me, Thursday, March 17, at 6:30 PM at the Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street, at "Art Goes To The Movies". This week's movie offering is "Basquiat", the first film by painter and film-maker Julian Schnabel, starring Jeffrey Wright. Jean Michel Basquiat was a Haitian-American neo-expressionist painter in late 1970's to 1980's New York. Discussion and popcorn follow. All are welcome. $12 members of the League, $15 non-members.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Camille Claudel Movie

Above Photo of Camille Claudel at 19 years old.

Join Film Critic Robert Denerstein and me, Thursday, March 10, at 6:30 PM at the Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street, at "Art Goes To The Movies". This week's movie offering is "Camille Claudel", the neglected 19-20th century artist whose affair with Rodin may have left her emotionally destroyed. Discussion and popcorn follow. All are welcome. $12 members of the League, $15 non-members.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

March Schedule for "Art Goes To The Movies"

image above from "Chihwaseon (Painted Fire)", 2002

Art Goes To the Movies, Part II

A class taught by film critic Robert Denerstein and artist Sandra Kaplan at the Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street, Denver, on Thursday nights from 6:30 to 9:30.

Part 1 of "Art Goes To the Movies" focused on the artistic process as captured in a series of fascinating documentaries. Part II switches to the lives of artists as interpreted by a variety of directors.

1. March 3. Chihwaseon (Painted Fire). (2002). Korean master Im Kwon-Taek examines the life of 19th century artist Jang Seung-up. Im’s stirring and evocative drama takes place against a backdrop of political turmoil, but it’s Im’s cinematic artistry and Jang’s vivid paintings that make for a potent exploration of the ways in which artists learn to speak with original voices.

2. March 10. Camille Claudel (1988). French director Bruno Nuytten chronicles the life of 19th Century sculptor Camille Claudel (Isabelle Adjani), a woman who worked in the shadow of Auguste Rodin (Gerard Depardieu), the famed sculptor who initially took Claudel on as a student. Building his movie around the stormy relationship between Claudel and Rodin, Nuytten takes a fascinating look at the passion and obsession that can drive an artist to greatness or possibly to madness.

3. March 17. Basquiat (1996). Artist Julian Schnabel began what has been a remarkable second career as a film director with this look at the rise of young Jean Michel Basquiat, a painter who began his career as a New York street artist and became an art star of the 1980s. The movie features an extraordinary performance by Jeffrey Wright as Basquait. Schnabel – no stranger to fame – examines the intoxicating (and perhaps fatal) mix of art and celebrity.

4. March 24. Serpahine. (2008) The amazing story of a maid who was recognized as a profoundly gifted artist. Director Martin Provost obtains a brilliant performance from Yolande Moreau as Seraphine de Senlis, an artist whose work was discovered by art critic Willhelm Uhde (Ulrich Tucker). Provost illuminates much about the impact of recognition on a woman who may not have regarded herself as an artist in any conventional sense.

5. March 31. Mystery of Picasso. Make-up class.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Art Goes To The Movies"

Click here to register, find out dates and pricing for Robert Denerstein and my art and film class, "Art Goes To The Movies". This class is open to artists and non-artists, members of the Art Students League, and non-members. CLICK

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Art Goes To The Movies"

For the first time, my husband, film critic Robert Denerstein, and I will be teaching a class together combining both of our areas of expertise. The Art Students League of Denver has offered a venue for our class, Art Goes To The Movies, on Thursday evenings in February and March, 2011.

Art Goes to the Movies will be presented in four-week blocks that revolve around films concerned with art and artists. The first segment will be devoted to the enticements of the artistic process. Thanks to documentaries, we now have the ability to examine the working methods of important artists, a study that can provide inspiration for those who make art and deepen the appreciation of non-artists who regard art as an essential part of their lives.

1. February 3, 2011. The Mystery of Picasso (1958). For this crucially important documentary, French director Henri Clouzot persuaded Picasso to paint on camera, providing us with a unique opportunity to watch Picasso's mind in the midst of creation.

Topics for discussion: What is the role of "showmanship" in an artist's career? When is a work finished? Can there be art without risk? Where does craft end and art begin? How do we define an artistic genius?

2. February 10, 2011. Vincent. Director Paul Cox's 1987 documentary blends the artist's letters to his brother Theo with views of Van Gogh's work and the landscapes and faces that inspired it. Cox's approach allows Van Gogh's psyche to emerge more vividly than it has in many of the works that have attempted to dramatize the artist's tumultuous life.

Topics for discussion: The role of the spiritual in art? The artist as outcast, and the quest for transcendence in and through art. Can madness play a role in the creation of great art?

3. February 17, 2011. David Hockney: A Bigger Picture. This stirring 2009 documentary chronicles Hockney's transition from the sun-splashed climes of California to the more muted world of his native Yorkshire in Great Britain. Director Bruno Wollheim captures Hockney making work that may prove to be the capstone of an amazingly prolific career.

Topics for discussion: The artist's role in transforming landscape. Where does observation cease and vision begin? Why does so much art have the capacity to awaken us to life?

4. February 24, 2011. Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy, Working With Time. This 2001 documentary by director Thomas Riedelsheimer not only captures the transient beauty of Andy Goldsworthy's scupture, but becomes a work of art in itself. Goldsworthy uses natural materials and most often works in natural settings where pieces are subject to the vagaries of weather.

Topics for discussion: If art was made in a forest and no one was there to see it, would it still be art? Can there be a truly lasting nature to any art object? Should the artist be quiet and faceless, never an intruder on nature? Does the fact that Goldsworthy photographed (and then sold photos of) his ephemeral works make us wonder about the purity of his intentions?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! 2011

"Fan Dance" mixed media collage

"Elgee Stalks The Moo Shu" mixed media collage

Oliver Sacks wrote yesterday in the New York Times that one's New Year's resolutions (and here I ineptly paraphrase) should focus on the brain as much as the commonly made self promises to lose weight, eat healthily and work out on a regular basis.

I decided that some art and mind resolutions would be a great idea - after all, why not expand my 2011 goals so at this time next year, I can evaluate my compliance on a range of scales other than that nasty, inaccurate one in the bathroom? Intellectual, Philosophical, Artistic?

1. Since my last post was about my upcoming workshop in Tuscany, I'll start with a realistic goal of getting through all 12 of my Italian tapes before next September. Not that one really needs to speak Italian in Italy - getting completely lost in back alleys can lead to intriguing experiences there - but then, perhaps even greater opportunities exist for those more diligent students of Italian. I'm reminded of a recent trip when a car driven by an "only Italian" speaker left our lodgings, speeding towards Florence with my suitcase, which should have been heading with me to Piza.

2. It's been several years since I began my current series of collages. (Click here to see some examples.) More spontaneous and experiential than my paintings, and occasionally more narrative, I've been procrastinating about translating some of the collages into paint. This has been under the guise of telling myself that I've been reaching for a form these translations could take that would be as spontaneous a process as the one I use for the collages, rather than just using the images and blowing them up to canvas size.
Come on, Sandra, JUST DO IT.

3. We've just watched a film by Bruno Wollheim, "David Hockney, A Bigger Picture", in preparation for a class my husband and I will be teaching during February and March at the Art Students League of Denver titled "Art Goes To The Movies".
Hockney decided to return to England, and for the first time, to eliminate his photo references and paint "En Plein Air". Watching his experimentation with oils and freedom with color , I couldn't wait to get back into the studio. I'll wait until spring for my total "en plein air" experience, but the muddy locales of Yorkshire were less inspiration for me than watching the hand of the artist work.
Today, though at home, I dove into my paints.

4. One more. Being more disciplined with my time would certainly help me with # 1 thru #3. Although my best guess is that this resolution is unrealistic, given my bad record of adhering to a schedule.
I need at least one resolution likely to remain unfulfilled during the coming year. Then I'll have a good start on my resolutions for 2012.